NFL Football 2013: Houston Texans Preview
When people in the online sports betting legal community try to assess this season’s prospects for the Houston Texans, a journey to the past is in order.
In order to understand how far the Houston Texans must travel in 2013 in order to reach their goal of a Super Bowl appearance, you need to first realize how much heavy lifting they did in 2012… only to fall short of their intended target. After starting 11-1 last season and looking every bit the favorite in the AFC, the Texans went to Foxborough, Mass., to play a New England Patriots team that was fighting for a playoff seed. The Texans got pummeled on Monday Night Football. The Patriots opened up an enormous lead and never really looked back in embarrassing the Texans on national television. From that point forward the Texans never seemed to recover, as though the team no longer believed it was a contender in the AFC. This is not idle speculation that would rival anything that happens in a succession of online poker games. Houston really did lose the body language that marked the first 12 games of its season. The Texans were a largely different team thereafter.
When you look at the Texans' 11-1 record heading into that New England contest, some things tend to stand out. Nine of the team’s 11 wins came against teams who didn’t make the playoffs. The other three included a blowout of a shorthanded Baltimore Ravens team, a win over Denver, and a blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers at home. Down the stretch the Texans lost two of their final three, putting their record at 3-4 against playoff teams. Perhaps that is simply a fluke and didn’t mean anything, but it does beg the question: Were the Texans ever really an elite team, or just a bully of bad football teams?
The game against the Cincinnati Bengals was not so much a case of Houston winning as its opponent doing a better job of failing and stumbling. The Texans looked uninspired and played a relatively poor game against the Bengals. If Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton hadn’t overthrown wide-open receiver A.J. Green on a long pass in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, the Texans may not have won a playoff game at all. The Patriots, one week later, made sure Houston did not sniff the AFC championship.
While the Texans had a respectable offense the majority of the season (finishing seventh overall), the team simply did not have the firepower to score at a high level against quality opposition. Matt Schaub did not play well consistently, and what’s alarming is that he ran out of steam in the team’s December-January collapse. While running back Arian Foster put up solid numbers, the Texans’ rushing game wasn’t consistent enough, often forcing the team into third and longs, making life difficult for an increasingly burdened Schaub, whose credentials as a quarterback have been freshly questioned. For people interested in football betting, the bottom line is this: Schaub will have to play above his pay grade more than anyone else on the Texans if this team is to take the final few steps it couldn’t take last season.