With the NFL playoffs beginning this weekend, it’s easy to make a case for several teams in each conference going on a deep postseason run.
Except for maybe the Houston Texans.
Yes, the Texans (9-7) won their division this year, and yes, they’ll be hosting a streaking-yet-beatable Kansas City (11-5) squad on Saturday. But it’ll be tough to find people, even in Houston, who think this Texans squad has a realistic chance of reaching the Super Bowl.
“People are optimistic about the future of this team (but) maybe not this season,” three-time Super Bowl champion and Houston’s SportsRadio 610 radio host Ted Johnson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think people in Houston feel there’s limitations with this team. With Arian Foster going out early in the season, we have good running backs – they’re serviceable running backs – but they’re not Arian Foster. And there’s obviously limitations at the quarterback position with Brian Hoyer.”
Hoyer completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,606 yards and a career-high 19 touchdowns in 11 games this season. He also threw just seven interceptions, this after throwing 13 last year with the Browns.
“Statistically, this is one of his better years,” Johnson said, “but we know his ceiling isn’t that high. So I think fans in general are optimistic and happy about where the Texans are at this point considering they started the season at 2-5 and have really turned it around. But I think everybody’s pretty pragmatic about what the expectations are for this year.”
Some Texans fans, however, are stilling dreaming big.
“There’s still feelings that maybe they can get Kansas City in this first round and then maybe go up and play Denver with the instability at quarterback if they did match up with Denver and maybe make a run,” Johnson said. “But for the most part, people really feel – considering how the season started, how bad it started – that this team and this town has a legit football coach.”
Houston started 2-5 but won seven of its last nine games, with the only losses coming at Buffalo and against New England.
“Bill O’Brien can coach his butt off,” Johnson said. “It was pretty impressive at the bye week when they were (3-5) how he took ownership of the mistakes he made, how he held himself accountable. That just really resonated with the players. You just don’t see that. I played 10 years in the NFL. I don’t remember (Bill) Belichick or (Pete) Carroll or Bill Parcells ever telling me or apologizing to me for mistakes they made, so that really resonated with the guys and they turned it around.”
Nevertheless, the Chiefs head into Houston as three-point favorites.
“(This Texans team is) really a fun team to watch, and the fans are proud of this team,” Johnson said. “They don’t have the highest expectations, but they’re really excited about what the future holds here in Houston.”