Overall prediction: Texans 17, Seahawks 35.
— Mike Vrabel will once again blitz like Rommel on speed, because hey, it must’ve been the pressure that made Browns’ QB Kevin Hogan spray passes all over the NRG Stadium turf. It won’t go so well this time. Russell Wilson excels against the blitz, and while Pro Football Focus has had some well-documented WTF moments in the past, I trust them here. Through week seven, Wilson ranked 3rd against the blitz, 6th against pressure, and 1st in short completion percentage… anyone who has seen our linebackers-not-named-Dylan-Cole trying to chase running backs down in the flat knows how that generally works out.
— Bill O’Brien will make a potentially game-changing boneheaded call sometime in the third quarter, because he’s BOB and that – along with “run the same five plays over and over” and “burn with unrequited love for replacement-level players like Alfred Blue” – is just what BOB does.
— CBS will cut repeatedly to that one shot of Bob McNair looking like he just got a Sriracha enema while Rick Smith tries to melt into the furniture, because CBS hates us (I’m clearly just padding my stats now, as all the major networks have had had a hate-boner for the city of Houston generally, and the Texans specifically, for a long time. I hope the World Series goes seven games, just to make those bastards suffer).
— Duane Brown will play….
Here’s the hard part about writing a “predictions” column, y’all. It’s not the scrying — I follow Nostradamus’s basic technique of “meditating in front of a bowl filled with water and herbs” (like KFC’s, the specific mix is a closely-guarded secret). Rather, it’s the predictions that don’t come to me via a bowl full of herbs – the ones, in other words, where I actually try to think it through the way the Texans’ “brain” trust would.
Which is why Duane Brown’s future is so hard to see. Trying to see things from Rick Smith’s perspective is like trying to guess what your loopy old uncle is thinking. You know, the one who is “just asking questions” about stuff like the moon landing. You know he’s wrong in general, but he’s never specifically wrong in any consistent way.
Here’s what I’d do in Rick’s shoes: We’re not in “win now” mode, because this team is like every other team in the BOB era – we beat the bad teams and lose to the good ones, and there are more good teams than bad on the upcoming schedule. The Titans and Niners are probably gimmes at this point, and the Colts should be, but given our track record against Indy I’d count on us dropping at least one of those. Even if we get all four, that’s seven wins… and that might be it. 9-7 is optimistic; 6-10 is a real possibility. The AFC South is still a dumpster fire, of course, and if another 7-win team is going to sneak into the playoffs, it’ll undoubtedly come from our putrid division, but that just means getting embarrassed on national TV again. It’s time to start thinking about next season.
Given that, I’d trade Duane Brown. He’s frequently hurt and on the wrong side of thirty. Teams that are in win-now mode might be willing to fork out a huge premium for him. Ask for the Earth, and settle for a continent or two. Given that our highest draft pick right now is a third rounder, and given that Rick Smith is to third round picks what Battle Red Blog is to the English language, we might well come out of next year’s draft with no serviceable players at all. Trade Brown for something, anything, that’s younger, healthier, and cheaper than he… and for God’s sake, sit him this weekend.
Which is why I predict Brown will play. The franchise isn’t in win-now mode, but Rick Smith most certainly is. He mortgaged the future trading up for Deshaun Watson, and though Watson has worked out better than anyone could’ve dreamed – for now, at least, and on paper – that’s still not enough to save Rick’s job if we really do go 6-10. I wouldn’t put it past Rick to trade some more draft capital for an additional lineman, or maybe a corner, in a desperate effort to postpone the inevitable for another season or two.
We’ll see. Check back on Monday to see how we did.