The Playoffs. The Dance. The Tournament. The Quest. Whatever name you have for the next four weeks, it's the most compelling time of any season in any sport. There may not be anything more exciting than the playoffs in any sport. Ask NHL fans how much they live for playoff hockey. What makes football so different is the finality in a one-game, winner-take-all situation.
All other sports, including MLS, have a series format, as opposed to the NFL's "win and advance". The NCAA tournament is a one-game survival test and that's what gives that time of year the most apropos nickname - March Madness.
In the NFL, that one shot to win one game is both pressure packed and exhilarating at the same time. Upsets happen. Favorites get knocked off. Super Bowl locks don't get past the divisional round. Teams go on the road and win all three games to get to the Super Bowl. As I told Marc and Andre last week, the NFL is the best reality show on television and it gets everyone watching, especially at this time of the year.
Throughout this week, we talked to current and former players ad nauseum. They all essentially said the same thing - the speed goes up a notch, the focus goes up two notches and the anxiety goes up about three notches. That's what makes it such fun to be a part of, yet again.
Throughout the week, as I've listened to radio, locally and nationally, and read what people have had to say about this playoff game on Saturday, there's a sense that some aren't excited about a playoff game at NRG Stadium. I started to think about that fact and did a little research.
So, answer this question... in the city of Houston, since 1965 (the opening of the Astrodome), 50 plus years of football in this great football town, how many playoff football games have taken place HERE?
That's it. The artists formerly known as the Houston Oilers played only five playoff games in Houston over that time frame, while the Texans have played three in the past five years. The matchup with Oakland will be the city's ninth playoff game since 1965 but it will also be the fourth in the last six years.
My point? When it comes to the playoffs, there's nothing to take for granted. These kind of opportunities to watch your team in the playoffs don't come around as often as you might expect.
So, enjoy Saturday. Be loud. Get excited. It's okay, even if your cynical buddy next to you maybe doesn't feel it. If you jump up and down when Wendall Williams makes a catch right in front of you... oh wait, that's me, sorry. Regardless, let your Texan fandom shine because, like I said, the playoffs are special. No matter what.
The Houston Texans roster in photos.