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So much happens on any given Sunday in the NFL. It’s hard to keep track of it all. More importantly, it’s quite a lot to decide what we should value as signal and what we should just ignore as noise. In this space, I’ll go through all that we learned this week and give you the five things I care about coming out of Week 13, along with five things I can’t muster up the emotional energy to care for. Good news for you: We’re going to do this exercise in emotional turmoil every Sunday of the regular season.
5 Things I care about
The Texans show a verifiable ceiling
The Houston Texans did it. Two weeks after suffering an embarrassing loss at the hands of the white-hot Ravens, Houston slew the dragon. Bill O’Brien took down his former mentor in convincing fashion with his Texans delivering a full dismantling of the New England Patriots.
The Texans offense did whatever they wanted, for the most part, getting hot in the second quarter and never letting up on the gas. The once-unbeatable New England secondary looked anything but against Deshaun Watson. The Texans’ passer was nearly flawless. With a 72 percent completion rate at 9.3 yards per pass attempt with three scores through the air. He also chipped in with a “rushing” score, with a major unrecorded assist going to DeAndre Hopkins. A performance like this reminds us why Watson is just as talented as any of the top quarterbacks in the MVP race. He’s as true a difference-maker as there is in the NFL.
You cannot deny Houston has a floor. With injuries in their front seven and offensive line, those units aren’t up to the standard the team had set coming into the season. The secondary has been a problem all year and passers like Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes have already shredded them this season. Those problems will give anyone pause about picking the Texans in a one-game elimination situation come the postseason.
However, with Watson, the Texans have a ceiling high enough to beat any team in the AFC playoff race. He is simply marvelous. No team has put it on New England through the air the way Watson did on Sunday night football. Nothing could have been more emblematic of Watson’s game than when Will Fuller juggled away a would-be second-half long touchdown and he went right back to Kenny Stills in almost an identical situation one play later for the score.
The Texans haven’t had a perfect regular season. They have a flawed roster. We can’t even give them the AFC South title yet with two games left to play against the soaring Ryan Tannehill-led Tennessee Titans. However, flawed teams with massive regular season miscues have hoisted a Lombardi Trophy before. Sunday night’s convincing win over the ever-looming Patriots reminded us that with Watson and a full arsenal of weapons, the Texans are as dangerous as anyone.