For weeks, I have listened to the national pundits talk about the Falcons, the Niners, the Bears and even the Broncos as the potential “best team in the league.” However, the one team that continued to fly under the radar was the Houston Texans.
At 7-1, it was hard to imagine how a team with the third best defense in all of football and J.J. Watt being in the discussions for defensive player of the year could not be talked about among the league’s best, yet here we were. Headed into a match up with a team that had an identical 7-1 record on the national stage for Sunday Night Football, yet all you heard about was how the Bears could solidify their hold on the NFC with a win.
Even during the pregame intros, we were treated to comparisons between this Bears defense and the dominant one they had in 1985, en route to “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” Then, with a seemingly discounted mention, we learned that the Texans were there, too.
Perhaps it was because of the way they were picked apart on their previous Sunday Night appearance by the Green Bay Packers, but the announcing team almost made it sound like they were lucky just to be there. Never mind the fact that the Houston defense was statistically better than the Bears up to that point. Perhaps it was this kind of talk all week that led the team to put on the most dominant defensive performance in team history.
Before the game, it was said that the weather was an advantage for Chicago and that Houston was out of their element in these conditions since they were an “indoor team.” Just a note to the pundits; Houston has a retractable roof and plays plenty of their games that don’t classify as “indoors.” This was probably even sweeter justice to the team, that they were able to change their style, go smash mouth and let their defense win it for them on the road in a hostile environment.
With the win over the Bears, and improving to their best start in franchise history at 8-1, now was the time the league would finally take notice of the Texans success this season, right? Not so fast.
In watching numerous outlets for post game coverage, all the talk was about what the Bears did wrong and how the Texans wouldn’t have won if Jay Cutler had stayed in the game. I’m sorry, I guess I missed the way Cutler was just picking the Texans apart before his exit. Then the weather, which was listed as an advantage for them before the game, was the reasoning for the Bears loss.
I understand that Houston isn’t a “sexy” city and that national media respect is something as meaningful as a warm bucket of hamster vomit, but for this team to have three signature wins on the season, two on the road, and still not be talked about as a title contender is baffling to me.
Immediately after the game, Tony Dungy said the Texans “made their case” as the top team in the AFC. Coach they made that case quite clear three weeks ago when they kicked their closest competitor in the conference, Baltimore, by 30 points. If you want to say they made their case for best in the league, I’ll accept that. But they’ve beaten Baltimore, they’ve beaten Denver and now they’ve knocked off the Bears, in Chicago with poor weather conditions. I think they’ve made their case for the AFC already.
But is this necessarily a bad thing for the Texans? Definitely not. A thing like lack of respect from big media is the kind of thing that keeps a young team hungry. Looking at the Texans remaining schedule, the toughest match up they have left on paper is the New England Patriots in early December. They’d have to play really awful football the rest of the way not to lock up home field for the AFC playoffs. They have tiebreakers over Denver and Baltimore and a light to moderate schedule the rest of the way.
If Houston can avoid any more serious injury problems to their defense (they’ve already lost Brian Cushing for the year), that unit is good enough to take them to the big dance this season. And that’s something I’m pretty sure will get them on the media radar…maybe.
Filed under: Houston Texans