by Marc Vandermeer
You have to look at Sunday as a double-elimination playoff game. If you lose, you go to the loser’s bracket and play next week. If you win, you get a bye and move on.
All week I’ve been calling this game a virtual must-win. Losing is not the end of the season but it removes the road to the Super Bowl from Houston and, in all likelihood, puts it in Denver or New England.
People are talking about momentum. But that can be recaptured in a day (note: I wrote ‘can.’ It’s not automatic). The Saints lost three straight before their 2009 Super Bowl run. The Texans themselves lost three straight last year and looked sharp in beating the Bengals last season.
The more important thing is getting home field advantage. Sure, it didn’t pay off against Green Bay and Minnesota this season. But if the Texans are at home and get a lead, they will be tough to beat.
It’s all still out there for them. They bogeyed a couple of holes on the back nine but can still rally on 18. Home field is still up to them. And believe me, the folks in New England and Denver would love to be in this situation.
The Colts say they are playing their starters. Fine. Chuck Pagano’s return will be an emotional one for everyone supporting Colts blue. Fine. The Texans have never won in Indy. Fine.
Just like never having won 12 games or never having beaten the Ravens or never having eight Pro Bowlers, they’ll just have to find a way to achieve another first. As for Indy’s emotional edge, get a lead and get JJ Watt after Andrew Luck and that could diminish fast.
There’s a lot of talk about Matt Schaub this week and if he’s the kind of QB that can get his offense out of the muck and humming in the playoffs. He’s not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning but did you really need this season to tell you that?
He’s capable of leading this team where it wants to go but media talk is cheap and now is the time to deliver. Schaub needs the big boys up front to do their thing and get Arian Foster and the ground game going. If that happens, all boats rise with the tide. A few weeks ago he threw five TD passes in an overtime win. Against Denver, the media darlings, he threw four touchdown passes. He’s still that guy has has to play like it.
For a while it looked like the Texans almost couldn’t lose. Now we know their vulnerabilities. We also know their potential. It’s up to the coaches and players to put together a win over the Colts and take it from there. The playoffs start now.
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