Why are Texans a popular pick to make the playoffs?

Houston Texans v Indianapolis ColtsFor the third season in a row, the Houston Texans are a popular choice among many NFL pundits to breakthrough its malaise and make the playoffs.

I’m not sure why.

The Texans franchise has been in the NFL since 2002 and has never posted a winning record. In 2008, the Texans went 8-8. Even so, many expect Houston to leapfrog Tennessee and/or Indianapolis on its way to the playoffs.

Houston has highly talented players at its skill positions. Andre Johnson may be the best wide receiver in the NFL. Matt Schaub, when healthy, has shown the ability to be proficient passing the football. Owen Daniels is among the league’s best tight ends, and Steve Slaton surprised many by rushing for 1,282 yards and catching 50 passes in 2008.

One cannot overlook Mario Williams. The first pick in the 2006 NFL draft, Williams has silenced his doubters and is now a feared force at defensive end. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans is a passionate and talented linebacker who is willing to take the heat for his defense’s performance.

Casual observers will look at this lineup of talent and conclude it is inevitable that Houston will outplay its opponents on pure talent alone and post a winning record.

However, there is one thing glancing at a team’s roster will not reveal: poor team chemistry and poor coaching.

Head Coach Gary Kubiak has distinguished himself by fielding teams known for turnovers on offense and leaky pass defense. These flaws are compounded by Kubiak’s questionable decision-making.

Last Sunday, I watched the Texans-Jets game, and I saw two plays that epitomize Houston Texans football.

On the first play, Steve Slaton made a nice run after catching a screen pass, only to fumble the ball into the hands of a Jets defensive lineman.

First down, Jets.

On the second play, down 17-0 late in the third quarter, the Texans had a fourth-and-two at its own 49-yard line. Kubiak decided his offense would go for it. Matt Schaub’s pass to Owen Daniels was deflected.

First down, Jets.

I can only conclude the pundits who pick Houston to win the AFC South have not watched the Texans play.

I expect the Titans to rebound strong from its loss to Pittsburgh, hand Houston its second loss, and force fans to reevaluate their assessment of the Texans.

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