When the Houston Texans and New England Patriots meet on Sunday afternoon in the final divisional round game of the weekend, Houston's lack of big-game experience will prove costly.
That's not to say that Houston isn't talented enough to beat the New England Patriots, they are.
However, it takes more than talent in the playoffs to win football games. Knowing how to win in the playoffs is equally as important—if not more so—than having the talent needed to emerge victorious.
Sunday afternoon marks the fourth playoff game in the history of the Texans franchise, and the second for starting quarterback Matt Schaub, who missed last season’s two playoff games due to a knee injury.
Tom Brady, on the other hand, is about to step under center in the playoffs for the 23rd time over his legendary career, one that has seen him post a 16-6 record in the postseason.
You can’t buy big-game experience like that.
It’s not just under center where there’s a disparity in big-game experience.
Up and down the rosters, New England boasts more players with experience playing in big playoff games than Houston does. It’s even lopsided on the sidelines, where nobody is going to attempt to compare Houston head coach Gary Kubiak to the mastermind of New England’s success, Bill Belichick.
Look, this has little to do with New England's lopsided 42-14 victory over Houston back in Week 14.
A simple look at the numbers from that game proves that it was only a handful of plays that made the difference, as Houston was right there with New England in virtually every statistical category—except points, obviously.
It’s true that an inexperienced group can overcome the odds and win against a more experienced club. We only need look back to 2010, when the New York Jets, with a second-year quarterback in Mark Sanchez, walked into New England and beat the Patriots on Wild Card Weekend.
But these Texans limped into the playoffs, losing three of their last four regular-season games, and there was nothing about the win over Cincinnati last weekend that was impressive.
For Houston to overcome its lack of experience on Sunday afternoon, it would take a perfect storm of events. Brady would have to play a terrible game, Schaub would have to prove that he can carry a team to victory, and the rest of Houston’s roster would have to raise their level of play as well.
That’s simply not in this weekend’s forecast.