In the City of Houston, there's a general sense of accomplishment for the Texans. They have already achieved more than anyone would have predicted coming into the season.
Not only have they made the playoffs, not only have they won the division, but they won their first playoff
game in franchise history.
Because of the success that they have already experienced some people feel that the season is a success regardless of what happens in Baltimore. In a short sighted, myopic view of the team that may be true. They have overcome any expectation that they had coming into the season, but that's a hollow achievement unless they can build on it next season.
There has been speculation that Wade Phillips would leave for a head-coaching job in the offseason, but it now seems imminent. Phillips will have a meeting with Tampa Bay on Friday, and if he doesn’t get a job there, then another opportunity will surely open up.
Fans need to look no further than the Indianapolis game to see the impact of not having Phillips with the team. The worst team in the league looked good against a defense that was only missing Phillips for two weeks. They still had the same system, the same position coaches and all of the momentum in the world and couldn’t handle the Colts.
If you need any other proof that Phillips has a direct impact on a team’s defense, look back at the Dallas Cowboys last year. While Phillips was there, the Cowboys had a good defense. As soon as he left, the defense self-destructed.
If the Texans want to look at the game against the Ravens as “playing with house money,” then they need to spend that house money on Phillips to make sure that he doesn’t leave. There's a breaking point for everyone, and if Bob McNair doesn’t back up the Brinks' truck and keep Phillips here, there's no reason to believe that this team will be able to repeat what they have done this year.
If you don’t know that you can get back to this point next year, then you're not playing with house money. You need to fight desperately for every chance that you have because it
could be your last. Look at Seattle last year.
They easily could have been “playing with house money,” but now, they're sitting at home watching the 49ers destroy their division and possibly make a push deep into the playoffs.
This is a league where, every year, a team that's 6-10 the year before goes 10-6. There are no guarantees because for every team that makes that leap, it knocks out at least one team that was in the
playoffs before. Then, also take into consideration that if Andrew Luck is as good as people expect him to be, the Texans may have a very short window of opportunity to win without the Colts
There's no such thing as playing with house money, if the Texans take anything for granted, they will regret it because these are truly special opportunities. If there's anyone who can appreciate that, it should be the Texans after the last decade of futility and the scars left from the Oilers leaving.
The Texans are three wins away from winning the Super Bowl. There's no telling when the next time Texans fans will be able to say that.
As fans, don’t take this for granted, enjoy it.