At this point, "Madden" is basically a dead metaphor, synonymous with Kleenex or anytime a brand name overcomes the product itself. Video games are video games, but Madden is Madden and I was sure enough on the horse from the get-go and spent years with my focus trained to the Genesis-SNES-Saturn-Playstation-PS2-Xbox-PS3 (good lord am I glad we only have to buy one of these every 6 years now that I'm an adult) while I played Madden. Well, played Madden my way, at least.
See, if you challenged me to an actual one-on-one football contest in the game I would be no better than average. I could spend 30 hours a weekend on Madden and it wouldn't matter because I didn't play the actual games as much as I was a Dynasty Mode addict. I never wanted to be the quarterback, the running back, or the head coach, I wanted to be the GM. I wanted to take a shit team, or an expansion team, and I wanted to make them better and that's probably due to the fact that I'm a Seahawks, Mariners, and Sonics fan; we want to live vicariously through something or someone else.
Probably why I keep looking for a father figure at the clubs on weekends now.
Well, the Houston Texans are my real life Madden Dynasty Mode team. When they were announced as an expansion team for the 2002 season, I bought a Texans jersey at Champs Sports before they had any players. It just had the number "0" and "TEXANS" as the name. It was only coincidence that they later drafted David Texans with the number one overall pick! So I followed the Texans, rooted for the Texans, and watched yet another one of my favorite teams play like shit because I'm a sports masochist.
The Seahawks and Texans have only met twice in history. In 2005, Seattle was possibly the best team in the NFL and the Texans went 2-14. The Seahawks won 42-10, Shaun Alexander scored four touchdowns, Maurice Morris ran for 104 yards and a touchdown, Peter Warrick had 53 yards, Domanick Williams was the starting running back for Houston.
The next time they met was 2009, when the Texans finished with their first winning record in franchise history and the Seahawks were coached by Jim Mora. The Texans won 34-7, with Justin Forsett and Julius Jones splitting carries, T.J. Houshmandzadeh had 52 yards, Andre Johnson had 193 yards, and undrafted free agent Arian Foster made his NFL debut with 13 carries for 34 yards.
These are two teams that will rarely ever meet, and it so happens that the two times they have met is when both were on different sides of the pendulum. That's not the case in 2013.
The Texans should be considered one of the Big Three in the AFC along with the Broncos and Patriots. (I'll keep pushing this too, but the Bengals could make it a foursome and those are always more satisfying than a threesome.) If it weren't for injury, the Texans might have already made a Super Bowl by now but they haven't been too lucky in that regard. If that changes, there is a chance that they put up the best record in the league next year, thanks to an easy-ish schedule that includes the AFC South, the AFC West, and the Cardinals. They also draw the Seahawks, Rams, Patriots, and Broncos at home. I think I might've made this schedule for the Texans back in 2002 when I bought that jersey.
So I could definitely see the Texans winning over 13 games. The only thing I know for sure is that they won't win 16 games and that's for one simple fact: 'twould ruin my perfect seasonne! Here's why things are all good up in the Seahawks hood for Week 4, and why Houston shall fall:
1. In-Jury Duty
I hate to place too much emphasis on things that are unpredictable, unforecastable, and wildly variable. But damn it the Texans have probably had the worst luck in the league over the last few seasons with injury.
In 2011 they won the AFC South for the first time, but Matt Schaub missed six games and the playoffs. Foster missed six games. Andre Johnson missed nine games. Danieal Manning missed three games. Mario Williams missed 11 games.
In 2012, they were even better and that probably had a lot to due with the fact that Schaub, Foster, and Johnson were all healthy. But they were still dealt a tough blow when linebacker Brian Cushing, likely their second-best player on defense, was placed on IR after only five games.
Every team deals with injury but some just have to go with injuries dealt to their best players at the least opportune times. I don't believe in curses that don't have official written documentation that's overseen by a notary, but Houston seems to have a problem. (Fun Fact: When something bad happens to something in Houston, we tend to say "Houston, we have a problem." But that doesn't make any sense, does it? The problem wasn't in Houston, the problem was in motherfucking space. Now I just pictured Samuel L Jackson in a space movie. Please give that to us.)
I'm not saying that J.J. Watt is going to suffer a season-ending injury, because I love great players and I would hate to see that, but if I had to bank on like ten players with good odds to break some hearts this year due to injury, the Texans best player would probably be up there.
2. AFCino Man
Motion to re-name the AFC as the "Garbage Trash Conference"
"Nay" says John Elway from the corner. (Haha, horse joke. That joke has layers.)
All in favor.
"Yay" says everyone that has seen the AFC lately.
Conference domination is cyclical and it can last for over a decade. It just recently shifted from the AFC back to the NFC. I would expect the NFC to win considerably more than 50% of their games against the AFC for awhile and we saw that last year from the 12-4 Texans; they lost 42-24 to the Packers and 23-6 to the Vikings. Both of those games came in Houston.
There's nothing about your conference that makes you inherently bad, but just the fact that you play against weaker competition on a regular basis can cause a mirage that you're better than you are or that you're just not as prepared for the best teams. How Houston fairs against Seattle, San Francisco, and St. Louis should be very interesting.
Is it fair to a dock a team for who they play against? Yup.
3. Andre John-Son-in-Law
I thought that the Lions did the right thing when they drafted Charles Rogers over Andre Johnson in 2003. Grab yourself a copy of Madden 04 and dynasty mode the shit out of some Charles Rogers! But it turned out that Johnson would become a Hall of Fame receiver and Rogers would go into the Hall of... Lame... Ducks! *zing mothafucka*
Great, the Texans have a great receiver and he had 112 catches and almost 1,600 yards last year. It's doubtful that even though he's 32, he's going to fall off a cliff after a season like that. But do I expect him to even approach 100 yards against Richard Sherman? No, I don't expect that. More importantly though, the question isn't about Johnson for the Texans because he's been a treasure for them for almost their entire existence.
It's the dude standing on the other side of the field that has completely disappointed.
Houston is at it again, this time drafting DeAndre Hopkins with their first round pick to hopefully seal that part of their starting lineup and be the bridge from Johnson to the next era. Will he? Hell if I know, but I don't expect it to come in his fourth game of his career and not against Brandon Browner.
You'll need to prove you can move the ball through the air in order to at least give a little extra space to Foster. Are they going to be able to do that, especially if Sherman puts a lockdown on Johnson? Only if they get progress from Lestar Jean, Hopkins, or someone else and we haven't quite seen that yet. Don't mention Owen Daniels... I've already finished this section.
4. MTV Spring Break: Special Teams?
Are you ready for a shocking twist? The 12-4 Texans were ranked dead last on special teams in 2012 per Football Outsiders. They allowed 25.7 yards per return on kickoffs with two touchdowns. They allowed a punt return for a touchdown. Shayne Graham was 4-of-9 beyond 50 yards. But it was mostly their egregious kickoffs that pushed them so far back on FO's rankings despite being an overall good team.
They hope that changes when Randy Bullock, a 5th round pick in 2012, returns from a groin injury that ended his season before it started. At Texas A&M he was an All-American and winner of the award that goes to the best kicker that's named after someone you don't actually care about or know of. It's not a Gramatica.
But he's still returning from a groin tear, which sounds awful.
In other news, the Texans also signed Shane Lechler to replace Donnie Jones, and legend has it that Lechler is one of the best punters in league history, but he had two punts blocked last year (first two of his career) so he's clearly toast.
In a twist of fate, they let go of returner Trindon Holliday after five games and he ended up returning two touchdowns for the Broncos after they picked him up. And then he returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown against the Ravens in the playoffs. They still don't have Trindon Holliday.
The Texans have made a lot of changes to revamp the worst overall special teams unit in the league NFL. If they had the best special teams unit in the NFL then maybe with their offense and defense they'd be the ones to go undefeated.
But they don't so they won't because the Seahawks are all up in their biz-nass.
5. Bio-Do-Mess with Texas
See, Pauly Shore starred in the film Bio-Dome. There's a popular phrase that says "Don't mess with Texas!" What I have done here is combined the two but (and here's the fun part) I also turned it into DO Mess with Texas. Because I'm saying that we ain't never scared (a song that I believe I listened to 45,000 times during one season of Madden) of Texas or the teams therein.
I don't have a fifth thing and I just realized that there's nothing you can even do about it.
I like the Texans. This could be just the first of our two meetings next season. This closes out a rather difficult opening quarter of games for Seattle but they're now 25% the way through their perfect seasonne. Houston, we don't got no problems more like you're the ones calling Houston to alert them of said issues. Budddddy.