Texans at Patriots: Champions Of The Past

by @steven_lebron

In the last seven seasons:

Detroit Red Wings: lost in quarter-finals, lost in Conference Finals, won Stanley Cup, lost Stanley Cup Finals, lost Conference semi-finals, lost Conference semi-finals, lost in quarter-finals.

San Antonio Spurs: lost in semi-finals, won NBA Finals, lost in Western Conference finals, lost in first round, lost in semi-finals, lost in first round, lost in Western Conference Finals

New York Yankees: lost in ALDS, lost in ALDS, missed playoffs, won World Series, lost in ALCS, lost in ALDS, lost in ALCS

New England Patriots: lost in divisional round, lost in Conference championship round, lost in Super Bowl, lost in Wild Card round, lost in divisional round, lost in Super Bowl

In a sample of 28 seasons across the four teams which you would consider to be most consistent over the past decade or less, the teams have combined to win just three championships. None for New England.

We can talk helmet catch, or the Manningham encore that prevented two more Super Bowls for Brady and Belichick, but what about a wild card round loss to the Ravens where the game was essentially over after one quarter, or the more inexplicable loss to the Jets in the season after that?

At some point, we cross a threshold with these teams where it’s hard to manage between reputation and actual results. The Patriots are great every year — they’ve almost unbeatable in the second half of the season. Their defense isn’t exactly a brick wall, but the offense can turn it on almost at will, as we saw against Buffalo and San Francisco this year.

Brady is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league but even being half a step slower — with a lesser defense than the championship years — means the margin of error between a playoff exit and a Super Bowl has gotten much thinner.

We don’t expect the Texans to put up much of a challenge, as they were unimpressive in victory last week, doing as little as you could in winning to convince anyone that they were once 11-1. Also, we’ve already seen the Patriots methodically tear down this Houston team just several weeks ago, and that was without the injured Rob Gronkowski.

The talent should win out this week, but assuming that the Patriots are the best team in the AFC or in the league might be too simple of a conclusion and one that merits less and less support as the years between championships go by.

It just might not matter this week.

Patriots win 21-16.

What does everybody think?

Winners and Losers: Wild Card Round edition

by @steven_lebron

So, that wasn’t the most memorable weekend of football, was it? Still, we’ve got several interesting match-ups set up for next week, and who will ever forget Ray Lewis’s final pre-game dance in Baltimore?

Onto the winners and losers of the wild card round:

Winners

The Green Bay Packers as contenders: The defense figured out a way to bottle up Adrian Peterson in their third game against the superhuman running back in the last six week and Aaron Rodgers was efficient in spreading the ball around (completions to 10 different receivers). Experience counts in the playoffs, and even though it was against an inferior opponent, the Packers reminded everyone why even with an uneven regular season, they’re still going to be a tough out in these playoffs. I can’t wait for Green Bay-San Francisco next week.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady: Anything can happen in the playoffs, but I imagine the two quarterbacks were texting each other throughout the weekend marveling at the level of competition that the AFC teams displayed. We’re still on track for an AFC Championship Game showdown between these two in Denver.

Arian Foster: Most rushing yards by a running back in his first three career playoff games in NFL history. By the way: undrafted.

Christian Ponder: Nothing like a bad performance from your back-up QB to enhance your own value by default. Although I think the Vikings would be wise to explore the free agent and trade market for a quarterback this off-season.

Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks in general: The numbers weren’t spectacular for Wilson, and there was no 50 point performance from the offense this time around. But down 14-0 on the road in the first quarter, all the questions came back: were these Seahawks just a great team at home? Is this team capable of playing from behind? Wilson answered that with two key drives in the first half to get the game back to a manageable 14-10 deficit. Also, even though he had a key fumble, Lynch was spectacular on the day (137 yards, and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter). The Seahawks defense also tightened up after the early deficit. That was an impressive win, by Seattle. They struggled early in a hostile environment, made mistakes throughout, and still walked out with a double digit win. It’s the type of win that will have people debating all week long whether they might just be able to go into Atlanta and give themselves a great chance at the upset.

Ray Lewis: A great final home game send-off for the future Hall-Of-Famer. Oh, and he got a shoutout from Kobe Bryant’s brand new Twitter account.

Losers

The Cincinnati Bengals franchise playoff drought: Saddest stat I read all week was that the Bengals had not won a playoff game since 1990, and since that time, every team in the league has won a post-season game (Browns? Yes. Jaguars? Yes, shouts to Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. And the list goes on). Marvin Lewis is now winless in four playoff games and, Andy Dalton, what exactly is his ceiling? Joe Flacco? Matt Schaub? I suppose that’s not entirely bad, since both those guys are still playing next week.

Joe Webb: If you follow the Vikings, or just football in general, you’ve heard whispers about Joe Webb and his freakish athletic ability, pretty best summed up by this video of him jumping over 7 dummies at the NFL combine. But on Sunday, pressed into action, he showed that there’s still a lot to go for him to be a competent quarterback.

The end of great regular season narratives: Time to tuck away #CHUCKSTRONG, and wonderful seasons from Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Adrian Peterson. But they’ll be remembered.

Football fans with Jets fatigue: Just when we thoughts Jets drama was behind us for at least a few weeks, we had to read all about Rex Ryan’s curious tattoo this week. The Jets aren’t just insufferable, they’re inescapable.

The Redskins: So, Washington fans, this is precisely why the Nationals took so much precaution with Stephen Strasburg by leaving him off the post-season roster, right? It was painful seeing Robert Griffin III out there on one leg, I mean, your knee isn’t suppose to bend this way, is it? With much chatter about whether Dr. James Andrews actually allowed Griffin to return to a game in December when he suffered his initial knee injury, coach Shanahan went ahead and risked further damage to his franchise, the investment that made the Redskins a topic of conversation again in football this year. We’re crossing sports for comparisons, but this reminds me of when the Blazers allowed Brandon Roy to return, and while that alone might not have cause the injuries that eventually forced him to retire (he’s since returned, but is on the injured list again), it does show what the long-term repercussions are when you don’t safeguard your best assets. Let’s just hope that we’ll see the same RG3 again next year. Also, Dan Snyder, let’s improve the field conditions just a little bit can we?

Who were your winners and losers?

Bengals at Texans: Momentum and other things

by @steven_lebron

The regular season in football is a tricky exercise in momentum. Here stand the Houston Texans. They’re 12-4. They’re division winners. And yet, they feel like the biggest losers coming into the tournament.

On the other side, the Bengals have temporarily (the permanency comes if they can keep outperforming our expectations next season) displaced the order of things in the AFC North. Their Week 16 matchup at Pittsburgh was a pseudo play-in game. If the Bengals won, they were in. Many would have expected the more experienced Steelers to make another late season run, and become the team that no one wanted to play in the post-season.

Instead, the Bengals inched past their division rival by a field goal, and became the team no one really thought would actually end up in the post-season.

And here they are, two consecutive playoff appearances for this franchise, which is no small feat. Miss you, Carson Palmer. Or maybe not.

Andy Dalton is not exciting, but he does enough. The defense is not glamorous, but they do have one of the strongest past rushes in the league. A.J. Green, maybe already the best wideout in football. This is a rematch of last year’s wild card match-up, the Bengals remain a house money team in the playoffs, they are a work in progress for which playoff experience will only help for their core group.

As for the Texans. They’re learning how tough expectations can be in the NFL. A year ago, they finally made the playoffs for the first time since the franchise returned to Houston. They were so banged up that T.J. Yates was their starting quarterback. They were also house money. It was a season worth celebrating.

This season, they seemed to have made the leap. But a late season swoon and unimpressive showings against Green Bay and New England during the regular season have left much to be desired from this team.

I suppose much of what you expect from this game depends on just how much you believe in momentum, and all those other fancy narratives.

I still think the Texans are the better team, and they rebound on Sunday.

24-17 Texans.

What does everybody else think?

honeypuss:

thisgentlemanbastard:

theveganfencer:

timeline of Arian Foster activities this year
goes vegan
trolls press
averaging 118 offensive yards per game (for you non-football heads, that’s a lot)
also has at least one touchdown in every game so far. also also bows and says “namaste” after scoring touchdowns
very strong tweeting ability as exemplified above
recently spotted on cover of espn magazine with a unicorn
dude loves kale
meets up and sends gifts to random fans he meets on twitter
recently spotted on cover of espn magazine with a gotdamn unicorn

I might have to start liking football.

at first i did not believe…

honeypuss:

thisgentlemanbastard:

theveganfencer:

timeline of Arian Foster activities this year

  • goes vegan
  • trolls press
  • averaging 118 offensive yards per game (for you non-football heads, that’s a lot)
  • also has at least one touchdown in every game so far. also also bows and says “namaste” after scoring touchdowns

  • very strong tweeting ability as exemplified above
  • recently spotted on cover of espn magazine with a unicorn
  • dude loves kale
  • meets up and sends gifts to random fans he meets on twitter
  • recently spotted on cover of espn magazine with a gotdamn unicorn

I might have to start liking football.

at first i did not believe…

(Source: classactsandgymrats)

Mutual admiration. Ray Lewis and Arian Foster exchanging jerseys after yesterday’s game.

I’m a total pessimist when it comes to my sporting allegiances so take this with a grain of salt.
The Ravens won the game today (which is what really matters) but the Texans played like the better team. The Ravens got off to a fast start but they couldn’t score in the second and third quarters. They would have been held completely scoreless after the first if not for a 44-yard field goal Cundiff made in the 4th. The offense could not get anything going.
Houston’s rushing attack looked much better than the Ravens. Arian Foster ran for 132 yards on 27 carries. Rice got 60 on 21 attempts. In general the Texans defensive line out played the Ravens offensive line. They pushed around the Ravens line and they sacked Flacco 5 times for 36 yards. The Ravens defense came up with 0 sacks on the day. Zero.
The Ravens secondary was ready to play. They allowed 184 passing yards but also intercepted Yates three times. Ladarius Webb came up with two of them. Still, the Houston defense looked superior.
What would’ve happened if Houston didn’t play Yates? What if they still had Schaub? What’s gonna happen in New England when it’s Tom Brady throwing the ball?
@nhall

I’m a total pessimist when it comes to my sporting allegiances so take this with a grain of salt.

The Ravens won the game today (which is what really matters) but the Texans played like the better team. The Ravens got off to a fast start but they couldn’t score in the second and third quarters. They would have been held completely scoreless after the first if not for a 44-yard field goal Cundiff made in the 4th. The offense could not get anything going.

Houston’s rushing attack looked much better than the Ravens. Arian Foster ran for 132 yards on 27 carries. Rice got 60 on 21 attempts. In general the Texans defensive line out played the Ravens offensive line. They pushed around the Ravens line and they sacked Flacco 5 times for 36 yards. The Ravens defense came up with 0 sacks on the day. Zero.

The Ravens secondary was ready to play. They allowed 184 passing yards but also intercepted Yates three times. Ladarius Webb came up with two of them. Still, the Houston defense looked superior.

What would’ve happened if Houston didn’t play Yates? What if they still had Schaub? What’s gonna happen in New England when it’s Tom Brady throwing the ball?

@nhall

*Larry David voice* “Ya know, it just occurred to me today…this Arian Foster fella is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.”

*Larry David voice* “Ya know, it just occurred to me today…this Arian Foster fella is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.”

Stylez G. White Arian Foster, Texans postgame press conference.

Stylez G. White Arian Foster, Texans postgame press conference.

Congrats to the Texans for clinching their first playoff spot since returning to Houston as an expansion team.
The last time a Houston football team made the playoffs was with Warren Moon and the Oilers in 1993.
Many people, including myself, were skeptical as to why the team brought back head coach Gary Kubiak this year, after years of under-performance. But with a revamped defense under Wade Philips and a level of resiliency few expected after injuries to Matt Schaub, Mario Williams and Andre Johnson; the Texans are deserving participants in the post-season.
No matter what happens in the playoffs, getting there is a huge step for the organization. Its first step in fact towards relevance.
- steven lebron

Congrats to the Texans for clinching their first playoff spot since returning to Houston as an expansion team.

The last time a Houston football team made the playoffs was with Warren Moon and the Oilers in 1993.

Many people, including myself, were skeptical as to why the team brought back head coach Gary Kubiak this year, after years of under-performance. But with a revamped defense under Wade Philips and a level of resiliency few expected after injuries to Matt Schaub, Mario Williams and Andre Johnson; the Texans are deserving participants in the post-season.

No matter what happens in the playoffs, getting there is a huge step for the organization. Its first step in fact towards relevance.

- steven lebron

I will never get sick of the Heisman pose, whether it’s premeditated or accidental.
- steven lebron
(photo via siphotos)

I will never get sick of the Heisman pose, whether it’s premeditated or accidental.

- steven lebron

(photo via siphotos)

It’s official, Houston Texans RB Arian Foster will NOT play in today’s game versus the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts. Adjust your fantasy lineups accordingly!

It’s official, Houston Texans RB Arian Foster will NOT play in today’s game versus the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts. Adjust your fantasy lineups accordingly!

So far this year, Arian Foster has 1230 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. That’s good enough to put him first in the league in rushing yards, rushing TDs, and first downs.Not bad for an undrafted running back. Like a G6.

So far this year, Arian Foster has 1230 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. That’s good enough to put him first in the league in rushing yards, rushing TDs, and first downs.

Not bad for an undrafted running back. Like a G6.