It’s been hard for people to accept the fact that the Texans are a very good, balanced football team.
That’s because they are the Houston Texans. They’ve never been good before.
It’s also because of their schedule. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Oakland, and New Orleans have been the toughest four teams on Houston’s schedule thus far. The Texans went 1-3 against those teams, but 6-0 against shakier opposition.
Despite that, Houston has an intriguing balance that made them real AFC Super Bowl contenders. They were good enough to survive losing Mario Williams. They have been good enough to survive losing Andre Johnson for a while.
They are good enough to survive losing quarterback Matt Schaub for the season. For now.
It all depends on what the goal is here. If the goal is the franchise’s first playoff berth, then Leinart can get the job done. If the goal is winning playoff games, Leinart has a lot to prove.
We think Leinart can keep the Texans afloat for a variety of reasons.
Offensive line: The Texans arguably have the best line in football. Arian Foster and Ben Tate probably form the most dynamic running duo in the league. This is a run-first team that sets up a quarterback for success.
Schedule: Houston’s next six games: @ Jaguars, vs. Falcons, @ Bengals, vs. Panthers, @ Colts, and vs. Titans.
3-3 is a very reasonable expectation for that stretch of games. I think they could do better. They could probably afford to do worse.
AFC South: The Titans lost 38-17 in Pittsburgh. They lost 41-7 at home to Houston and lost at home to the Bengals. They have overachieved to get to 5-4, but there is little reason to think the Titans will win more than eight games. The Texans have already won seven.
Defense: Schaub doesn’t play defense, and Houston has a legitimate top-five group. It’s not just the schedule. They get after the quarterback and have playmakers at every level. Between the defense and the running game, the foundation is there for Houston to compete every week.
Again, it all comes down to expectations. Before the season, plenty of Texans fans would gladly have signed up for a division title and an early playoff exit. That’s still very likely. A bye isn’t totally out of the question.
If the Texans hope to compete for a championship, well, they better hope Matt Leinart shows something he has never shown in the NFL before.