The Texans enter the divisional round of the playoffs as decided underdogs to the Patriots. And the Texans embrace that role.
Which is a good thing, because they’ve earned that role.
“Yeah, I love being the underdog. It’s my claim to fame,” defensive end Antonio Smith said, via Dave Zangaro if CSNHouston.com. “I don’t know. I’ve just been an underdog all my life. I grew to love it, feels good.”
It feels good because it helps provide extra motivation.
“That’s the secret weapon of the underdog,” Smith said. “Yeah, it bothers us and you just sit there and you take it and you let it harbor and you let it fester and grow into what you need it to grow into.”
Teammate J.J. Watt agrees.
“Love it,” Watt said of the team’s status. “I love doing things people tell me I can’t. That’s a great feeling. Right now, there are a whole lot of people telling us what we can’t do. I see a lot of guys in this locker room working hard to prove what we can do.”
But the only reason people are telling the Texans they can’t win is because the Texans haven’t been playing well. At all.
It started a month ago, when the 11-1 Texans rolled into New England for a game that veteran receiver Andre Johnson bizarrely dubbed the biggest in the history of the franchise. The Texans lost in ugly fashion as part of a 1-3 finish to the season that included back-to-back losses when only one win would have delivered the top seed in the AFC field.
Thus, the Texans shouldn’t be facing long odds on the road against the Patriots this weekend. The Texans should be hosting the Ravens and favored to win. And then the Texans should be hosting the winner of the Broncos-Patriots divisional-round game, and likely once again favored to win.
The Texans are instead underdogs because they stunk it up down the stretch. If they choose to delude themselves into thinking it’s an unfair label that came from anything other than their own inability to take care of business, that’s their business.
But the reality is that the Texans are solely responsible for the fact that no one believes in them. Which makes this whole “us-against-the-world” routine come off as more than a bit contrived and, in turn, sort of lame.