Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 10/16/12
Coming off a dominant 4-0 start, the Houston Texans played the past two weeks in nationally televised, primetime games against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. In both contests, the Texans did not appear to put their best foot forward, playing down to the level of a struggling Jets team before getting blown out by a Packers team previously frustrated at their current lack of success. At 5-1 and one of only three AFC teams above .500, there isn’t any immediate reason to be weary of the Texans for the remainder of the season, but their subpar play in the national spotlight could be the beginning of a troubling trend.

Most around the Texans organization have labeled this as a “Super Bowl or Bust” type of season, and rightfully so. The roster is loaded with talent that fits the coaches’ offensive and defensive philosophies respectively, and allows the weekly gameplans to feature a balanced offense and a complimentary, suffocating defense. From an infrastructure perspective, the Texans certainly have the makings of a championship squad. For the first time in franchise history, the Texans are extremely relevant, and are beginning to garner the attention that comes with it. However, their performance in their first two nationally televised games after the 4-0 start could be an indication they aren’t ready for the limelight that comes with being among the NFL’s elite teams. 

The problem with playing poorly when the football world’s spotlight on you is that it’s an essential component to winning a Super Bowl. Every playoff game is over analyzed and covered and as the playoffs progress and fewer teams remain, the limelight continues to grow on those remaining. All teams that win championships thrive under the pressure and attention that comes with playoff games and other nationally televised regular season games. 

It’s unfair to write the Texans off as unable to perform in primetime because they did win a playoff game last year and played well in their divisional round loss to the Baltimore Ravens. But that was last year’s team. The 2012 version of the Houston Texans have yet to demonstrate their ability to play clutch when all eyes are on them. 

There is a very realistic chance that the Texans simply haven’t played well the past two weeks. Their level of competition has increased and there is more on tape for opponents to study when the Texans come up on their schedule. The team is also working with some new players in new positions (particularly the O-line) and is still establishing the identity of this year’s version of the Texans. If that’s the case, then the past two weeks have been great learning opportunities for the Texans because the Jets and Packers exposed some weaknesses and areas in which the Texans could certainly improve. 

However, this possibility does not definitively dispel the notion that the Texans simply aren’t ready for the national spotlight. This weekend’s game at home against the Baltimore Ravens, the only other 5-1 team in the AFC, will be extremely telling. The game is not a national primetime game, but is still one of the week’s top matchups and a loss will further increase the volume of those that claim the Texans are overrated and not yet true challengers for the AFC crown. The Texans will need to put forth a tremendous effort this weekend before they head into their bye week, it could go a long way in shaping the rest of their season. 



Check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.
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