By Job Tennant, Sports Radio 610

HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON)Texans fans are absolutely right to completely disagree with the title of this article.  It is never okay to be complacent or to accept a loss.  However, there is one thing that many fans miss in this era of instant gratification via twitter and the 24/7 news media that has completely enveloped sports.

The Texans have taken a massive step forward in regards to who they are and how they are perceived.  For the first time in their franchise history they will go into next season as something other than an expansion franchise.

Kids go through puberty and it is obvious that they are no longer children.  There is no inevitable hormonal change that comes for NFL teams.  It is something that they have to fight and claw for and it is never guaranteed.

This season the Texans have hit their metaphorical puberty by not only making the playoffs but by winning the division.  This is no longer the only franchise in the NFL to have never made it into the playoffs.  No matter what asterisk you put next to that, it doesn’t sound good to fans, free agents, players, coaches or ownership.

That is finally gone.  The stigma of being a loser, the stigma of choking, the apprehension of never having been there is finally gone.  That doesn’t mean that it is easy sailing from here or that anything will fall in place next year or in the foreseeable future but it does mean that part of the mental obstacle course that is the NFL has been hurdled and there is one less thing to obstruct players, coaches or the ownership from producing what the City of Houston has never had, an NFL Champion.

The Texans are three-point favorites at home against the Bengals, which in Vegas terms means it’s pretty close to a coin flip.  The Texans should be able to use home-field advantage to claw their way to the first playoff victory in franchise history.  If they don’t there are numerous built-in excuses that begin with there being almost no playoff experience on this team, starting a rookie quarterback, Andre Johnson coming back off of two injuries, Mario Williams being out for the season and “Money” Mike Brisiel breaking his leg three weeks ago and somehow making it back to the field for this week’s game.

But those excuses don’t really matter.  Every team that makes the playoffs has issues with injuries and if the Texans can make it back next year they will probably have different injury issues to deal with, but what they absolutely won’t have is a roster filled with players that have never played in a playoff game.

Every player on the Texans that hasn’t played in a playoff game seems to be saying that it doesn’t matter, that the field is still 100 yards long, that the game is 60 minutes long, that you still have to be solid on the fundamentals.  However, the few that have been there before aren’t so willing to dismiss the importance of experience.

In the game on Saturday the Texans will learn a lot about who they are this year but what may be even more important is if they can learn about who they will be next year.  Experience can only be earned. Without experience confidence is closer to cockiness, without confidence there is no chance of earning the ultimate goal: a Super Bowl ring.  Here is to hoping that everything comes together sooner rather than later. Whether it is this year or next, only Saturday can give us the beginning of the answer.


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