The Texans, once the hottest team in the AFC, head into their first ever playoff game on a three game losing streak. But if history holds true, the skid should stop at Reliant Stadium on Saturday.
Since 2000, three NFL teams have entered the playoffs on three game losing streaks. All three managed to shake their late season problems and win their first playoff game.
The last to do it was the 2009 Saints, who dropped three in a row after starting the season 13-0. New Orleans, led by Drew Brees, marched through the NFC playoffs and into the Super Bowl, where they upset the Colts 31-17.
The Saints had already clinched home field advantage and a first round bye when their skid began. The Oakland Raiders seemed on the same track in 2001 until they closed the regular season on a three game losing streak.
The Raiders, much like the Texans, were 10-3 and had clinched their division title with three weeks to go in ‘01. But they stumbled to an 0-3 finish, costing themselves a shot at a first round bye.
Still, the momentum returned in time for their opening playoff game, a 38-24 win over an underwhelming Jets squad.
The Raiders would drop their next playoff game though, losing 16-13 in the snow in New England in the infamous “tuck rule” game. The Patriots, with the help of that controversial fumble reversal, went on to win the Super Bowl.
The 2000 Minnesota Vikings are the only other team since the turn of the century to lose their final three regular season games heading into the playoffs.
Minnesota still ended up with a first round bye and ended its struggles in its opening playoff game, rolling over the Saints 34-16. The following week, though, the Vikings were blown out 41-0 by the Giants, who went on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl that season.
The Texans aren’t the only team struggling down the stretch this season. The Broncos lost their last three games but still won the AFC West. Denver will try to end that skid at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday.