Given an opportunity to show that they belonged in the upper echelon of the NFL's elite teams, the Houston Texans instead proved Monday night that "overrated" is a much more accurate term to describe their club.
At 11-1, with a perfect 9-0 mark in the AFC, the Texans certainly had every right to have an air of confidence heading into New England. But including Monday night's 42-14 loss to the Patriots, Houston has now come up smallest on the biggest stage twice this season.
Remember, the Texans rolled into a Week 6 game with a perfect 5-0 record, only to get humbled by the then 2-3 Green Bay Packers to the tune of 42-24.
To be the best you have to beat the best, and the Texans haven't proved capable of doing so this season.
An inability to compete with elite quarterbacks and Matt Schaub's failure to compensate on offense represent the biggest reasons why Houston are more overrated than elite.
The Texans' numbers against top quarterbacks this season are concerning, to say the least.
On Monday night, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 21 of 35 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns. Back in Week 5, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards and six touchdowns.
Combined, the two elite quarterbacks completed over 65 percent of their passes for 634 yards, 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions. The two offenses combined to score 84 points.
Throw in games against Detroit's Matthew Stafford (441 yards, two touchdowns) and Denver's Peyton Manning (330 yards, two touchdowns), and Houston has allowed 1,405 yards and 14 touchdowns while intercepting zero passes against the top four quarterbacks on its schedule.
Any way you slice it up, the numbers for the Texans' pass defense are striking.
It's quite possible the Texans simply don't have the necessary talent in the back end of their secondary to compete against the Bradys and Rodgers of the NFL. More than likely, however, Houston would have to beat Brady, Manning or both in the AFC playoffs.
Schaub and the offense didn't offer much reprieve Monday night in New England.
While drops hurt, Schaub threw a game-changing interception early and then failed to get the Texans into the end zone until late in the third quarter. Against elite teams in the postseason, that won't cut it.
Let's also not forget that Schaub has never played in the postseason, which makes his performance on the biggest stages even more of a wild card.
And given the past performances of both the defense and Schaub, can the Texans expect to out-duel the game's best quarterbacks, especially when the stakes are highest? That answer is shaky, at best.
Houston is still a very good football team, and one of the first-round byes in the AFC is likely to go to the Texans. They have earned that right by winning the games they should.
But with an 11-2 record, you'd assume Houston is a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
With such small performances against the NFL's elite teams in the books, you probably can't consider the Texans a strong favorite in the AFC. Houston is more overrated than elite at this point.
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