AFC • It's a little bit of a reach, but if Houston stays healthy, watch out.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
When it comes to this annual preseason Super Bowl prediction thing that Kurt Kragthorpe and I are ordered by the boss to participate in, the only thing worse than being stupid is being boring.
And since Kurt claimed the NFC as his domain this time around, that leaves me to pick the New England Patriots. The only problem with that is … I can't. I would. I could. I should. But I won't.
Yeah, they had their defensive struggles last season, which is why the Pats committed all their draft picks to stopping the run and the gun, while their offense, led by You-Know-Who, will once again be one of the NFL's most efficient and explosive. I swear, Tom Brady could throw for 5,000 yards while slamming a cup of coffee and frying up his ham and eggs in the morning.
New England is a safe bet, with all its Pro Bowlers, to make the Super Bowl, again, to finally get that fourth ring.
But who wants safe?
The Steelers are out there, and that defense is bound to be rock steady, rock solid. And maybe the Big Benster is on the brink of a big season. But they also have to deal with a tough division, fighting for every square foot of success with the Ravens. Even the Bengals are a threat.
Baltimore would be a smart choice. But … Terrell Suggs will be missed and … Joe Flacco? Is it his time? Really? After five years, the quarterback with those impressive physical skills might be ready to kick it up another notch. He'd better hurry, though. The Ravens are getting gray. Does anybody realize that Ray Lewis is 37 years old?
There's a lot of clamoring and premature celebrating in Denver over having His Peytonness on board, and that would be a fun and dramatic way to go. But I'm not falling for it.
The pick here is … the Texans.
The reasonable answer to that question is … because Matt Schaub isn't a great quarterback he's a pretty good quarterback and great quarterbacks typically are the ones who take their teams to Super Bowls.
The 31-year-old Schaub has put up some decent numbers in Houston, but he also has a tendency to get hurt. He's entering a contract year, which should keep him pushing in a positive direction. Still, he'll have to stay healthy both for his cash to come in and for this prediction to have any kind of shot. Gary Kubiak's offensive system isn't particularly scintillating, but it is meant to get the ball quickly and practically to playmakers like running back Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, one of the best receivers in the game.
The Texans finished second in the league last year in rushing yards, and a consistent run game is a beautiful thing for any offense to count on.
The inconsistency comes when players can't go. At varying times last season, which saw the Texans make their first playoff run in team history, Schaub, Foster and Johnson all got dinged. And they still made it as far as they did. Imagine if the team is fortunate enough to keep those guys on the field.
It's a stretch of the imagination, but we're going with it.
Wade Phillips' defense is a gas to watch, creating all kinds of mayhem. Anchored by linebacker Brian Cushing at its core, the Houston D seems to have the green flag out on every down to simply wreak havoc. There are a lot of young talented stars in this group even with the loss of Mario Williams that will keep the Texans in games they might otherwise lose.
Williams never played after his midseason injury last year and he was put on injured reserve the year before, as well. Phillips' defense, which was second in yardage and fourth in scoring last season, will get along fine without him.
Yeah, the Patriots are probably a stronger, smarter pick, as they usually are, at least on the AFC side. But with the system Kubiak has in place in Houston, with the ascent the Texans are experiencing, it's not all that complicated or stupid to find a reason to reach a little here.
Besides, it's not a tired, stale pick.
I got a feeling, but we're all just guessing.
Watch out for the Texans. They're on their way up.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.