The Houston Texans are looking to make their first playoff appearance in 2009. The last two seasons, the Texans missed the playoffs by a game or two finishing 8-8 in both seasons.
For the Texans to make the 2009 playoffs, they first need to stay healthy. Last season Matt Schaub missed five games, Dunta Robinson missed five, Eugene Wilson missed four games, Zach Diles missed eight games, and Ahman Green missed eight as well.
Injuries affect the chemistry of the team. If the Texans have a lot of injuries, they are not going to have the same people on the field every game. If the same people don't play, they will not have strong chemistry.
Additionally, some positions do not have as much depth as they did last season. Sage Rosenfels, who was Schaub’s backup last year, was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. Dan Orvlovsky who was acquired from the Lions, will have to learn the Texans' system and may not be as reliable as Rosenfels.
Secondly, the Texans need to finish games when they have the lead in the fourth quarter, especially if they are up by more than eight. Houston lost two games that they led in the fourth quarter.
Last season the Texans were outscored 225-180 in the second half of games, and 136-102 in the fourth quarter. The Texans will have a strong chance of making the playoffs if they can play strong in the final quarter.
Next, the Texans need to avoid slow starts in the season and individual games. In their franchise history, the Texans' best start in the first quarter of the season is 2-2. In two of Houston’s seasons, they started 0-4.
Last season, the Texans scored first in seven games, and were 5-2 in those games. The Texans were 3-6 when their opponents scored first. Houston only had six games where they led after the first quarter, and was 5-1 in those games. When the Texans were tied or when their opponents led after the first, they were 3-7.
The Texans did lead after halftime in nine games and went 7-2 in those games. Houston was 1-6 in games in which they were tied or trailed after the first half. In fact, their only win in those games was against the Miami Dolphins in Week Five.
Furthermore, the Texans need to perform better on the road. Last season, Houston was 6-2 at home and 2-6 on the road. The only road games the Texans won were against the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers. Both of those teams failed to make the playoffs with a combined 10-22.
Houston was outscored on the road 214-160. The Texans lost three of six road games by at least 10 points. However, to the Texans' credit, four of six of their road losses were to teams that made playoffs.
The Texans were outscored 130-77 in those games. Houston was 2-2 on the road against teams that missed the playoffs, and was about even with its opponents, who scored 84 to the Texans 83.
In 2009, only four of eight road games are against playoff teams. The Texans visit the Titans in Week Two, the defending NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals in Week Five, the Colts in Week Nine, and the Dolphins in Week 16.
The other four road games for the Texans are the Bengals in Week Six, the Bills in Week Eight, the Jaguars in Week 13, and the Rams in Week 15. For Houston to make the playoffs, they need to win three out of four road games against non-playoff teams and at least one against playoff teams.
Finally, the Texans need to take advantage of their schedule. In 2009, only six games are against last year’s playoff teams. Besides their four road games against playoff teams, the Texans host division foes Tennessee and Indianapolis. Last season the Texans defeated all of their opponents at home that missed the playoffs (6-0).
In 2009, the Texans face the NFC West in interconference play. The Arizona Cardinals were the only team that made the playoffs in that division last season. The Rams, Seahawks and the 49ers all picked in the top 10 of the draft.
All and in all, if the Texans can dominate at home again and at least go .500 on the road, they could make a bull rush into the playoffs.