Texans Once Again Land In Saturday Afternoon Wild Card Slot
The NFL "still does not value nor respect the Texans" when it comes to "national TV eyes and publicly promoting the multibillion-dollar worth of the shield," according to Brian Smith of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. When the Texans make the playoffs, fans "immediately know what is coming next," the earliest Wild Card game on Saturday afternoon. The Texans have won the AFC South four times in coach Bill O'Brien's six seasons with the team, and "all four banners have been rewarded with the lowly Saturday afternoon slot." The Texans also played on Saturday afternoon in '11 and '12, when they played in the Wild Card round under then-coach Gary Kubiak. Respect in the NFL is "earned, not given." But even with their "recent run of AFC South banners, the Texans still must prove they deserve the next level of spotlights" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/31). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Andrew Bucholtz wrote it is "somewhat understandable why the Texans keep winding up in this spot," as they are "not exactly the greatest national TV draw." The Texans "don't present a great case for top national TV billing, and facing the Bills certainly doesn't help." The Saturday afternoon spot "tends to draw the lowest viewership" of the Wild Card round. The Texans and Bills "certainly seem like the least desirable matchup for national television, and that's why the game's in the Saturday afternoon slot." But it still is "quite remarkable that the Texans have wound up there yet again" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 12/30).
METHOD TO THE MADNESS: In Boston, Chad Finn notes rather than the NFL having "one AFC game and one NFC game" each on Saturday and Sunday, as is the "familiar setup, both AFC games will be on Saturday, while both NFC games are on Sunday." As it turns out, this "isn't unprecedented," as in January '16, both AFC Wild Card games were played on Saturday. NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy did not offer a specific reason for the schedule, but said that there were "several variables, particularly 'competitive equity,' which means taking into consideration the Week 17 travel schedules" of the teams through the Wild Card games while also "keeping potential divisional-round travel in mind" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/31).