The Lofton Files: Texas’ Team

10/10/2012

There’s a football team in Texas and it’s not the Dallas Cowboys. Sure, we’ve learned over the years that the Cowboys are America’s Team, but take I-45 south from Big D for about four hours and you’ll find another place where they play a little football.

The Houston Texans moved their season mark to 5-0 with their win Monday Night against the New York J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. This Sunday night the Texans host the Green Bay Packers, which will mark back-to-back primetime games for Texas’ “other,” and better, team.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little hard on the Cowboys, but since 2010, when both the Texans and the Cowboys finished the season 6-10, it’s hard to argue against me. The Cowboys finished out of the playoff race after a muddled 2011 season in which they finished at 8-8. Combine that with their current 2-2 mark and they are a true .500 team, which doesn’t inspire much confidence.

Sure, the Cowboys have that fancy new stadium, Jerry’s World aka Cowboy Stadium. Built in 2009, it has a retractable roof, seats 80,000-plus and hosted Super Bowl XLV. But, wait a minute, Houston has a nice stadium too. Reliant Stadium, built for the Texans to start play in 2002, has a retractable roof, seats 71,000-plus and hosted Super Bowl XXXVII. Call it a wash.

How about those that argue Dallas is the big city? By reputation only. Dallas’ population checks in at just over 1.2 million, while Houston’s nudges past the 2.1-million mark. Add in the metro areas of both cities and Dallas is just north of six million, while Houston is a just a few hundred thousand behind. Call it a dead heat.

In Jason Garrett, the Cowboys have a former NFL backup QB as their head coach, while the Texans counter with former NFL backup Gary Kubiak. In Rob Ryan, the Cowboys can boast a defense run by the son of famous former head coach Buddy Ryan. The Texans? Oh yeah, Wade Phillips, son of legendary Oilers coach Bum Phillips, controls the AFC’s top-rated unit. Seems like they’re still neck-and-neck to me.

The Cowboys have a rock star QB in Tony Romo (66.9% completions, 1,148 yards, 5 TDs, 8 INTs through 4 games) and he has a star on his helmet. Wait a minute, there’s a star in that steer-flag combo logo on the Texans’ helmet occupied by Matt Schaub (63.8%, 1,162 yards, 8 TDs and only 2 INTs). Schaub also plays a mean guitar. Nothing to separate them yet.

Except, of course, the records. The Texans are 15-6 since the start of last season – and 16-7 if you include their playoff win (and loss) last January. The Cowboys are 10-10.

It’s hard to avoid hearing all about the Cowboys. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they play in the NFC Media Division along with those other truly Eastern teams (Philadelphia, the New York Giants and Washington). The Texans? They’re in the also not-quite-geographically-accurate AFC South with Indy, Tennessee and Jacksonville.

Whether the media was slow to catch on or not, give the NFL schedule makers credit: they had Houston pegged all along. After the win Monday against the Jets and Sunday night’s contest, get ready to see a whole lot more of the Texans in the spotlight: November 11th on Sunday Night Football facing Da Bears, against the Lions to start off Turkey Day and another Monday Night appearance on December 10th in Foxboro against Tom Brady and the Pats. They might not be America’s Team just yet, but the Texans are going to get a whole lot of chances to state their case.

— JL

James Lofton is the analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of Sunday Night Football. This week, James and Dave Sims will be at Reliant Stadium to call the action as the Texans host the Green Bay Packers. Coverage begins at 7:30 PM on Westwood One Sports.

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