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The first Texans-Colts game of 2013 will be after the Texans’ bye in Week 8. Depending on its won-loss record, Houston may either be licking its chops or licking its wounds.
A 5-2 mark would have the Texans feeling pretty good about themselves due to that brutal three-game stretch of the Ravens, Seahawks and 49ers. If the effort was there, but the bounces did not go their way, a record of 4-3 would just mean there is work to be done in the second half of the season.
But 3-4 would translate to near panic. The balance of the schedule has two games against the hated Colts, another test of courage against the dreaded New England Patriots and the umpteenth encounter with their old nemesis, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
At 3-4, Houston would have to go 8-1 to have a shot at winning the division. Pulling off 7-2 might mean missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker. Fans and media alike would be calling for the heads of Kubiak and Schaub.
Whatever transpires in the run up to this game, it will be seen as a must-win situation. The Texans have the Colts at home, where they have beaten them the last three times.
Many pundits have Andrew Luck and his cohorts backsliding this season. The fact they made the playoffs last season is considered a fluke for statistical and personnel reasons.
A team with no consistent running game that could not protect its quarterback and allowed more points than they scored should not have an 11-5 record. The maestro who pulled off this stunner was Bruce Arians, and he used this success to land the head job with the Arizona Cardinals.
Head coach Chuck Pagano contributed what he could while undergoing treatment for leukemia and is back in control of the team. An infusion of talent via the draft and free agency could have kept this team on the same track.
Gosder Cherilus is an improvement at right tackle, but he can’t make up for the deficiencies of left tackle Anthony Castonzo. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey looks better than Donnie Avery coming off the bus, but not when the ball bounces off his cast-iron hands. How is Erik Walden supposed to upgrade your pass rush when he was rated the worst 3-4 outside linebacker by Pro Football Focus (subscription required for Premium Stats) last year?
Houston should be able to retake control of its fortunes, even if its status is a bit shaky coming into this game. The main threat to every NFL team by this juncture is the injury bug. Should the starting lineups on offense and defense still be intact, the Texans will finish the first half of the 2013 season with a win.