They stole our parade!
Just months after humiliating Baltimore, the Texans are wondering how it's possible that the Ravens are Super Bowl champs.
Joe Flacco is the wunderkind du jour after he looked like the worst quarterback in the league in an embarrassing performance at Reliant Stadium.
In the other installments of this series, AFC South teams have had their offenses and defenses stacked up against Baltimore's. That's not necessary for the Texans.
Houston was just flat better on both sides of the ball than the Ravens were.
Offensively, the teams were very close. Ironically, Houston's passing game was better all year than Baltimore's. The Ravens ran the ball more effectively, but the difference was negligible overall. Houston outscored Baltimore.
Defensively, Houston was better as well. They were better by both DVOA and points rankings.
So how is it Ray Lewis is being fitted for a ring and J.J. Watt isn't?
The Ravens did have a massive advantage in special teams. They were the best in football and Houston was the worst. Ironically, that didn't hurt the Texans. In the playoffs, the Ravens had a massive special teams let down in Denver, while Houston got a big return in their loss to the Pats.
Ultimately, Texans aren't champs because Matt Schaub played poorly down the stretch and Joe Flacco played well.
The mistake people make is assuming that Schaub and Flacco are nothing more than what they did over their final four games.
Yes, Schaub played like there was something seriously wrong with him down the stretch. That bad run of games is not at all indicative of who Schaub has been as a quarterback, however.
In the same way, Flacco just had the best month of his, or maybe anyone's life, at quarterback. Does that mean he simply is the player he has been over the final four games?
There was nothing in Flacco's history that suggested he was capable of a hot streak like the one he just finished. He wasn't good in the playoffs before 2012. Before this year, he finished five of nine career playoff games with a passer rating under 62. That's not just bad, it's historically awful.
Could Schaub ever get hot like Flacco just did? Maybe, maybe not, but there was no evidence Flacco was capable of it before he did it either.
Right now, fans and analysts view Schaub like dog food and Flacco as filet mignon because of what they did most recently. It's a ridiculous way to judge football.
Flacco will never be this good again. Unless there's something wrong with Schaub, he'll probably play a lot better than he did down the stretch. We can be like raccoons chasing shiny baubles, and Flacco is the en-vogue pyrite.
Over the long haul, hot and cold streaks even out. The evidence says Schaub is at least as good as Flacco. He had his hot streak early in the year. Flacco had his in January. That's not the result of any innate quality of either man. It's just random chance.
Back in December when the Pro Bowl teams were announced, there was absolutely no discussion about how Flacco was jobbed and how Schaub didn't deserve his spot.
Why? Because no one believed Flacco was better than Schaub. There was no evidence for it. There was no case to be made.
The Texans and Ravens entered the playoffs with the same puncher's chance at winning it all. The Texans' shot was even a little better.
In the end, their quarterback didn't get hot, so they didn't win.
The Ravens rode the hot hand and a lot of good fortune to the title.They got the breaks that went against them in 2010 and 2011. Those were vastly superior teams to the 2012 version, but there aren't any banners hanging celebrating their accomplishments.
The biggest lesson the Ravens can give the Texans is that if you have long-term stability and make the playoffs every year, eventually good things will happen.
If Houston wants to be the next Baltimore, they have to keep making the playoffs every year and keep pushing the boulder up the hill. It'll roll back down on top of them nine times out of 10, but eventually with a little luck, they'll make it to the top.