Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA Today Sports

Gallant: The Texans are the AFC's 5th best team

How do they compare to the top 4 in conference?

MAD Radio
November 08, 2018 - 2:55 pm

I get the sense that we’re all on the same page with the 2018 Houston Texans.

“Do they actually . . . suck?” We thought it was a possibility after the 0-3 start. I even went all Jim Acosta on Bill O’Brien.

I hope he turns it around.

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“Are they  . . . kind of good?” We’re now all there with the team now 6-3. Shout out to Frank Reich’s coconuts, Jason Garrett’s hazelnuts, Nathan Peterman literally throwing games (he should bet his life savings against the Bills in every game that he starts), and Vance Joseph’s appreciation of 50 yard field goals for the  incredible journey!

I said the Texans would be a “frustratingly frisky” 9-7 team this season. Why? Because Bill O’Brien and company are always 9-7 (except that one time).  Because at best, Houston’s offensive line would be no better than a work in progress (they’re heading there). Factor in a mediocre cornerback group (one that’s now banged up), underwhelming running backs, Will Fuller’s constant injuries, and a quarterback with under a year of game experience behind him, and behold: the Texans are on track for exactly what Paulstrodamus told you.

I’m optimistic about the final 7 games for the Texans. The only (currently) above .500 team they’ll play the rest of the way is Washington, and they just made Steve Sarkisian’s Falcons offense look sober (typically you’d say this makes them drunk, but…you know). They’ve also got games against the eternally burning dumpster fires known as the Browns and Jets. And on top of that, their remaining 3 AFC South matches are at home. The only tough game left? A nooner in a likely frigid Philadelphia against the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles.

I’d be mildly disappointed if the Texans did any worse than 5-2 over that final stretch, with those losses likely coming against a resurgent Colts squad and the afore mentioned Birds. Anything less than an AFC South title? A major failure.

But when it comes to MEANINGFUL Texans playoff success, I’m not feeling it. Sure, they might beat the Bengals for the 400,000th (or 3rd, whatever) time in the first round of the playoffs. They also might dump the Dolphins again, or fifty-burger the fraudulent Titans.

Still, are they winning on the road in the divisional road? Putting up a fight in the AFC championship? I don’t think anyone sees that happening. Here’s why:

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

First off, who the hell is going to cover Tyreek Hill, who has 239 speed in Madden (probably)? Or the insufferable, large, athletic monster known as Travis Kelce? Or slow down Kareem Hunt, only the best running back in the league? And lost in the shuffle is Sammy Watkins. He might be overpaid, but he produces.   

The key to everything? Patrick Mahomes. The smoked out Kermit the Frog/Ed Orgeron sounding hybrid is essentially a rookie, with a little more than half a season of reps under his belt. But where are the warts? He’s shown ZERO signs of regressing down the stretch. Beating Kansas City is going to require Mahomes beating himself. With all those weapons, how can he?

I know that Andy Reid teams typically struggle in the second half of the season, and that Kansas City’s defense is a sieve. But are you really asking a Bill O’Brien led offense to outscore a fantasy team caliber arsenal?

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Tom Brady. Bill Belichick. Game blouses.

The Texans played a sloppy game in Foxboro earlier this season, and yet STILL had a chance to beat the Patriots. Last year? More of the same. So I suppose you could tell yourself that they’re closer to pulling off an upset than anyone would expect. But the problem is this: no team improves from the beginning of the season to the end quite like New England. Will the Texans be able to say the same AND win on the road? I doubt it.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Of all the REAL teams in the AFC, the Chargers are the one that the Texans probably have the best chance against. For one, I’m not sold on Anthony Lynn as a head coach. Plus, the Chargers have played a cupcake buffet this year. They beat the Bills, squeaked by the Jimmy G-less 49ers, wrecked the rank-ass Raiders, blew out the Browns, and topped the Titans after they failed a game winning two point conversion attempt.

Still, it’s hard to knock a team that’s only lost to the Chiefs and Rams. LA’s offense puts up points like Philip Rivers produces children. Keenan Allen is one of the league’s most underrated receivers, Melvin Gordon is averaging over 5 yards a carry. And to wrap it all up, the Chargers are still waiting for Joey Bosa – one of the league’s best defenders – to suit up.

LA could end up winning the AFC West and getting a first round bye if they take care of business on the road in early December against the Steelers and Chiefs. The rest of the schedule? A bunch of bums.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Roethlisberger. Brown. Smith-Schuster. Bel…Conner. Pittsburgh is always LOADED on offense. That said, the Mike Tomlin regime has been plagued by a massive problem for years.

The Steelers are last among this foursome because they’re a poorly disciplined team that doesn’t pay attention to minute details. Last year they lost to a bad Bears team AND got caught overlooking the Jaguars not once, but TWICE last season. And let’s not forget their epic pants poopage at home against the Patriots after that Jesse James catch was overturned. This year? They tied the Browns AND actually made the mediocre Ravens look good.

Their only other loss was to the Chiefs, and they look to have improved significantly since those early slipups. But I expect more of the same underachieving in this year’s playoffs.

In conclusion? You can talk yourself into the Texans having a chance against these teams. But between now and the end of the regular season, there’s nothing that will change MY mind on that front if the Texans end up squaring off with one of these teams.

Paul Gallant hosts Mad Radio - mornings 6-10 CT on SportsRadio 610 - with Mike Meltser & Seth Payne.

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