Printed off, they would stack up, one after another, until they scraped the ceiling.
The paper necessary to print all the prognostications about the Houston Texans would decimate a small forest.
Division champions, conference champions, even Super Bowl Champions.
One digital expert after another, eager to skip the regular season and move right on to the playoffs, has already declared the AFC South to be over and done, and the Houston Texans are champions.
There's just one problem with paper crowns. Though they are easy to make, they don't last very long.
There's a reason there is such unanimity of thought around the Texans. They have a lot of talent and play in what is perceived to be the weakest division in football. About the only one picking against the Texans is known contrarian and serial pot-stirrer Mike Florio of ProFootball Talk, who was undoubtedly more than a little pleased with the attention his selection of the Titans garnered.
It's undeniable that there's a buzz around Texans. The players admit it. J.J Watt said,
It’s a little different. I think the city’s expectations are definitely a lot higher this year. Last year, kind of just wanted to make the playoffs and see what we could do. This year, they want the championship.
With everyone with a keyboard and a blogspot account declaring the division won, it's no wonder Texans fans feel invincible heading into the opener with lowly Miami. Fans will fill Reliant Stadium drunk on the confidence that comes from knowing nothing can go wrong.
That kind of energy feeds upon itself, and the players can feel it. Watt said,
We came out for that first home preseason game and you would have swore it was a playoff game with the atmosphere with the way the fans were going crazy. We’re in there already talking about what our fans are going to be like for the first regular season game.
We know they’re going to be rowdy. We know they’re going to be loud. I don’t even know if we’re ready for what they’re about to bring. We can’t wait to get out there in front of our home fans, in front of our city, and show them what we’ve been working on all offseason. Expectations are high so we want to show them why they’re so high.
All the attention and endorsements are fun, but they won't be enough to fit the Texans for rings, or byes or even playoff berths.
Those aren't bequeathed.
They are won.
To the Texans' credit, you won't find them talking about the Super Bowl. They are too busy focused on practice. Watt's words bring comfort to anyone worried that the Texans might be overconfident heading into the 2012 slate.
It’s exciting. But as I’ve said before, nobody has bigger expectations than we do in our own locker room. All the outside attention is nice. All the media attention is nice. But at the end of the day, we’re going out to practice every single day and working our tails off to be the best team we possibly can be.
The Texans hope to find the perfect alchemy of hard work and talent this season. After all, that's how you turn paper into gold.
All quotes courtesy of the Houston Texans PR department.