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Red Zone Play: The Houston Texans Are In The Red Zone

How far can Deshaun Watson carry this team?

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NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What a roller coaster the 2018 season has been for Texans fans! When the Houston Texans started the season 0-3 (a sentence you’ve probably read a million times by now), all logic pointed to another year on the outside looking in. Then Deshaun Watson did what he’s done everywhere he’s ever been: He fired up his team and they found a way to win. And then win again. And again. And again. Suddenly, Houston was 9-3, ranked among the top NFL teams of the 2018 season.

When Deshaun Watson arrived at the Houston Texans’ facility the first time in April of 2017, everyone could tell there was something different about him. Fresh off his amazing win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship Game, Watson just exuded the aura of a champion. Ever since the Texans drafted him shortly after that visit, his will to win has elevated the play of those around him, just like it did at Gainesville High School and Clemson University.

Now, Watson is about to break the huddle for the first time in an NFL playoff game.

It’s time to get excited!

Early reports have Keke Coutee back in the saddle, DeAndre Hopkins chomping at the bit to show the Houston fans what he can do with a real quarterback in the postseason, and J.J. Watt itching to add to his NFL Comeback Player of the Year campaign.

But Watt and his squad will be facing the other contender for that title in Andrew Luck on Saturday afternoon at NRG Stadium. The points for/against margin for the Texans and Colts is ZERO right now, with each having won a game against the other by a field goal.

If it’s going to come down to kickball, well, Ka’imi Fairbairn just ended the year as the NFL’s scoring leader (insert “ALL HAIL THE ALL-FIELD GOAL OFFENSE!” chant)

Chances are, no matter whether the game ends on a last-second field goal or not, it will take a great performance from the offense, defense and special teams to put Houston in a position for Fairbairn to add to his total of game-winning kicks.

If the Texans are to win on Saturday, and Deshaun Watson is certainly going to will that to happen, they need to provide answers to the Andrew Luck/T.Y. Hilton/Eric Ebron questions that have puzzled them for some time. The Indy Star refers to NRG Stadium as Hilton’s “personal playground,” and like it or not, Romeo Crennel’s defense hasn’t be able to do much to rebuke that moniker.

Hilton, however, is still dealing with an ankle injury that has slowed him of late. If the Texans can keep him off the field, and if DeAndre Hopkins can outshine him on Saturday, Houston will find themselves on the road next week in New England.

Looking ahead, seeing Watson & Co. go into Gillette Stadium and steal a win from the Patriots would be an apt exclamation point on the “The Patriots Dynasty is (Finally) Over” storyline that’s been making its way around lately.

Before that can happen, the same young man who walked into the Texans’ training facility and impressed his future teammates will have to reach into his bag of divine gifts and get past the Indianapolis Colts.

In some ways, if history is the teacher, the 2018 season mirrors another point in Watson’s career, when he was named the starter in High School:

From The Ringer article linked above:

Gainesville (High School) followed its season-opening loss to Buford by rattling off 10 straight victories before falling to Cedar Grove High School in the second round of the state playoffs. Watson finished his freshman year with more than 2,500 yards of offense and 22 total touchdowns. By the midway point of the season, (Gainseville Head Coach) Miller says that he had taken to holding up the team bus so Watson could sign autographs for the horde of kids waiting outside. For anyone who saw Watson play that fall, it was clear that both quarterback and program were about to embark on new chapters in their history.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be the last time the mantra “Texans Fans: Waiting For Next Season Since 2002” makes any sense. If Watson, Hopkins, Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and the All Field Goal squad can get this far, imagine what the future holds. It’s no longer pie-in-the-sky to think that the City of Houston can be home to a champion. First the Houston Astros won the World Series, and now the Houston Texans can win the Super Bowl.