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The Road To Paradise (Part 1): Scenarios That Take The Texans To Glory In 2020

Always look on the bright side of life!

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Could This Glory Await?
Photo by Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis via Getty Images

In a previous pair of articles, we discussed the Doomsday Scenarios for the Texans. However, not all in life, even in 2020, is fated to catastrophe. There is always the chance for supreme glory. For the Texans, they face many paths to the Inferno, but they face just as many paths to Paradise. Here now is how they can find themselves slathered in success this season.

The 2020 Houston Texans Season Can Result In Ultimate Glory

houstoniamag.com

THE INVERSE OF THE DOOMSDAY SCENARIOS

The previous writings (here and here) discussed what could doom the Texans season. A brief recap:

  • Injuries, especially to key players,
  • Internal strife between Bill O’Brien and the players,
  • A brutal schedule,
  • COVID-19, and
  • The end of the world.

However, while any of the situations could happen, what if they don’t?

  • Injuries: Should the Texans avoid the injury bug, especially with their key players, they can compete with any team. If your big three are a franchise QB (Deshaun Watson), a game-changing pass rusher (J.J. Watt) and a franchise LT to protect your QB (Laremy Tunsil), you will win more often that not in the NFL.
  • Internal Strife: The balance between team harmony and internal strife is always tricky in the NFL. However, despite the less-than-ideal playoff record under BO’B (2-4), the team does have four division titles in his six years, and when a team wins more than it loses (52-44 under the BO’B regime), that leads to better harmony.
  • Brutal Schedule: While the schedule looks brutal on paper, they don’t play the games on paper. That factors that could submarine the Texans can impact every other team. Also, the AFC South, as dangerous as it appears with the Titans and Colts, is just as wide open. Projections are split across the three teams, and the Texans generally play well within the division (21-13 under BO’B).
  • COVID-19: While COVID-19 dominates the NFL environment, the Texans, so far, seem to have put into place effective containment/tracking mechanisms for COVID-19. Since camp started, there have been no reported positive cases. While that may not hold for a full season, there is a chance this could work.
  • The End of the World: As for something like a corona mass ejection (CME) or an asteroid, well, there is always a chance it happens and a chance that it doesn’t.

LIKELIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING:

  • Injuries: Regarding injuries, if 2017 was the nightmare year for the Texans, 2018 demonstrated what’s possible with better health. J.J. Watt played his first full season in two years, managing 16.5 sacks and a league-leading seven forced fumbles. In a recent interview, Watt indicated he hadn’t felt this good in an offseason since before 2014 and 2015. If we can get that type of J.J. Watt over a full season (2014-15 Averages: 19.0 sacks, 3.5 Forced Fumbles, 29.0 TFLs), that bodes very well. Deshaun Watson was not 100% healed from his ACL tear at the start of 2018, but by season’s end, he had his confidence back and helped lead the team to a 11-5 record. While the playoff game was a downer, it offered a glimpse into what the future with better health could hold, which lasted through 2019. If we get the injury luck of 2018, with a franchise LT, the dream scenario is more likely.
  • Internal Strife/Opponents: Factors such as internal strife and the quality of opponents can be harder to predict. Internal strife will depend on how the season plays out, but given BO’B’s past, it seems likely he will hold the locker room. As for opponents, even with the murderers’ row to start the year, there is hope. The Texans have won their last two home games against Baltimore (even if they haven’t played at NRG Stadium since 2014), and the Ravens tend to start seasons slow. As for the Vikings, while they are one of two teams the Texans have never beaten (Philadelphia being the other), the Vikings lost a lot of key players this offseason; while they will be a hard-hitting opponent, they are not invincible. Pittsburgh needs to see if it can still move the ball, and perhaps Kansas City is still in a Super Bowl hangover. It could work out better than expected.
  • COVID-19: This will continue to bear watching. So far, the Texans continue to report zero positive tests. Obviously, if it remains at zero positives, that might be the best of all worlds.
  • The End of the World: At this rate, 2020 could well be the end of the world. However, perhaps the higher powers feel we are suffering enough and may leave well enough alone… hopefully.
Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

DESHAUN WATSON: NFL MVP

THE “WARP SPEED PASSING ATTACK” OVERWHELMS SECONDARIES ACROSS THE LEAGUE

Coming into this season, the strength of the Texans is the offense, primarily Deshaun Watson. With increased continuity along the offensive line, Watson’s protection should improve. Despite losing DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans reloaded with potential speed options stretching a defense. Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills, at their best, present multiple speed options. Throw in the versatility of a healthy David Johnson and Duke Johnson Jr., and the passing game could explode.

In this scenario, Watson could put up Madden numbers. If that happens, buy stock in the Texans’ championship aspirations. The defense may not be the best in the league, but The “Warp Speed Passing Attack” at full power lessens the pressure. While the four-wide sets might be the most exciting formation, the space allowed in a three-WR set could open things for the TEs. The running game could resemble the great 49ers teams of the 1980s, where the devastating passing game opened up the run, allowing the team to jump out early and crush the will of the opponent late. This leads to Watson winning his first MVP by unanimous vote.

LIKELIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING: Much depends on the health of the WRs. Most already know the injury history. Yet these same WRs face free agency and/or significant questions about their future. They are motivated to prove the critics wrong. This also accounts for Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly showing a willingness to push the envelope with the explosive potential at hand.

These are some of the ways that the Texans could venture up to the cosmos of Paradise in the 2020 season. Have any notions to add to these projections? Let your voice be heard... and stay tuned for Part II, where we will show even more ways why 2020 could be the best year yet (for the Texans at least).