It seems that just about every person who has an opinion in sports has written off the Houston Texans, who have lost 3 of their last 4 games. The Texans head into Wild-Card Weekend after watching home-field advantage slip out of their hands. Saturday will showcase a rematch of last year’s Wild-Card game, between the Houston Texans (12-4) and the Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) in Houston once again. Based off looking at the win-loss records, it would be easy to say the Texans are the better team, but after a bitter end to their regular season, they are the underdogs here!
Houston comes into this game losing 3 of their last 4 games, after cruising to an 11-1 start. In the last four games of the regular season, the offense has looked out of sync. Matt Schaub, who is normally a very accurate quarterback, has thrown one touchdown to three interceptions in the last three games, and has only lead two touchdown drives on offense in the last four games. The turnovers, along with a ton of penalties, have killed the offense’s drives. When watching the games, it almost seemed like for every good play the offense had, they also had a turnover or penalty. Even on defense, when the Texans would force a third down, they would commit a foolish penalty. The entire team needs to not dwell on mistakes, and just play the game. On offense, they need to keep feeding the ball to their superstars, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, but they also need someone other than these two to step up and become a reliable player as well.
Most doubters are pointing to the last four games as their “proof” the Texans will lose to the Bengals this Saturday. However, do not look too much into losing 3 of their last 4. Last season Houston rode a 3 game losing streak into their first playoff appearance, before blowing out the Bengals 31-10 here in Houston. It’s not the same situation, but it is similar. In fact, in the last 10 years, teams that lost 3 of their last 4 games going into the playoffs, went on to win their first game 62% of the time. Momentum is something that can easily change in an instant. For a smaller example, look no further than week 17’s match up with the Indianapolis Colts. The Texans had finally taken a 16-14 lead over the Colts in the third quarter, and it looked as if they had all the momentum. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, the Colts return man Deji Karim returned the kick 101 yards for a touchdown, swinging the momentum in favor of the Colts. The Texans never regained composure and fell 28-16. They were forced to watch Denver and New England steal away the first round bye. In just a span of 12 seconds, the Colts had stolen all momentum from the Texans. Why can’t the Texans do the same?
My Prediction: Houston corrects its mistakes, limiting penalties and turnovers. The return of Brooks Reed will help the defense put pressure on Andy Dalton, forcing Dalton to throw two picks. They will also force a fumble through a strip-sack from none other than J.J. Watt. Matt Schaub puts his December woes behind him and leads his offense to 3 touchdowns. Texans 27 Bengals 13.
Other Wild-Card Predictions:
Packers 28 Vikings 17 – Adrian Peterson rushes for over 150 yards but it is not enough as Aaron Rodgers passes for four touchdowns.
Ravens 24 Colts 14 –Andrew Luck gives the Colts a chance but Ray Lewis leads his team to his last home victory.
Seahawks 20 Redskins 17 – Two rookie quarterbacks square off in this game, but it is the running backs for each respective team who shine in this game.