4. The Texans can compete against the league’s top teams
The last of my four takeaways from the 2016 season could possibly spark some debate and the inconsistency of the Texans is the main reason why. The Texans played five games against teams that made the playoffs this season (KC, NE, DET, Oak, GB) and walked away with a 2-3 record. Here’s the catch though, Houston defeated the AFC’s No. 2 seed the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 19-12, but then were blown out by a QB Jacoby Brissett led Patriots team 27-0 in Week 3.
The team matched up against the NFC’s No. 6 seed the Detroit Lions in Week 8 and defeated them 20-13. However, the last two matchups against playoff teams were still close, competitive games. In Week 11, the Texans played the Raiders, who at the time had a healthy Carr. The game was played in Mexico City and Houston was left at a full-disadvantage with the help of green lasers from the crowd and poor officiating.
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Osweiler felt the force of a green laser to his face for more than half the game and the officials blew a number of calls that would’ve benefited the Texans; including calling back a clear WR DeAndre Hopkins touchdown. Two weeks later the Texans traveled to Green Bay, WI to take on the Packers on a snowy Lambeau Field. Unlike the Mexico City game, there were no questionable calls or laser pointers. The Packers beat the Texans fair-and-square by a final score of 21-13.
The game could’ve went either way towards the end, but Osweiler couldn’t lead the 4th quarter comeback. The most important game to look at is against the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs. No one believed Houston would put up a fight at Gillette Stadium in a game of that magnitude. But I think the Texans raised some eyebrows and left a positive impression around the NFL.
The 34-16 final score doesn’t even begin to describe how close the game actually was. Houston pressured Brady all game and forced him into throwing two interceptions. It was the same amount he threw in 12 games combined in the regular season. If the Texans didn’t allow a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown and cleaned up their coverage, I believe Houston would be in the AFC Championship right now.
Houston Texans’ home and away opponents for 2017:
Home opponents (*playoff team): Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs*, Pittsburgh Steelers*, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans
Away opponents (*playoff team): Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots*, Seattle Seahawks*, Tennessee Titans