Texans/Bucs -- 4 Winners, 4 Losers (The "Goddammit, NOT Schaub!" Edition)
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has a significant foot injury that will force him to miss several weeks, according to coach Gary Kubiak.
All right, so time to reset expectations (probably more slightly than you'd think, at least for the regular season), rewrite my post, and try and figure all of this out (admittedly, probably a process for another post at another time, like Tuesday).
In the meantime, there are winners and losers to get to from yesterday's Texans game, from the weekend that was, and from some doctor's office this morning where the Texans' hopes and dreams for a special 2011 season were at the very least dealt a rock-hard body blow:
4. Tennessee Titans
How prohibitive a favorite had the Texans become in the AFC South? Well, heading into this past weekend, the prop bet online for the Texans winning the division was "Texans -520, Field +300." Basically, in plain English, this amounts to the Texans having about an 85 percent chance of winning the division. Additionally, as of about an hour ago (right around the time Matt Schaub's foot was spilling its little secret), the Texans were tied for third in the entire league as an 8/1 shot to win the Super Bowl. Let me say that again -- the Texans were tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers as the third-likeliest team to win the football championship of the entire universe. The Steelers have won six Super Bowls; the Texans have finished above .500 once.
And now, Matt Leinart is their quarterback. Admittedly, the one and a half game lead the Texans have over the Titans all of a sudden doesn't feel quite as big. If you're Tennessee, now you've got a little something clicking with Chris Johnson putting up 130 yards and now the team ahead of you lost its quarterback. AFC South door, officially reopened. Slightly. (As in, the Texans are probably more like -300 to win the division.)
3. Johnathan Joseph
To talk to people that follow the Bengals, what we are seeing from Joseph here in Houston is exactly what he was providing for Cincinnati the last few years -- leadership, shutdown skills and a very underrated physical presence from the cornerback spot. To talk to some of Joseph's teammates on the Texans, they will tell you that a huge reason the secondary is so productive this season is the tone Joseph sets and the experience he brings to what is still one of the youngest units on the team. To talk to me, well, I just like the way he scrambled Kellen Winslow's brain on a crossing route yesterday and created a Brian Cushing interception. Joseph is this season's best free-agent pickup anywhere in the league.
2. Derrick Mason
When the Texans signed Mason prior to the Baltimore game, I was asked "Number of Mason receptions as a Texan, over/under 8." I took the under, and while he only has six in five games, perhaps I was selling him a little bit short. That said, props where they are due: Mason had a very underrated, cagey veteran play in the first quarter when he jarred a sure Aqib Talib interception loose on an ill-advised Matt Schaub floater down near the goal line. The play prevented a momentum-changing turnover and allowed the Texans to kick a field goal to go up 9-0 early in a game where a two-possession lead felt pretty safe, even that early. Of course, that play would never have been recognized for its headiness had it not been for....