If ESPN analyst Tom Jackson is correct, there will be a Texas team at Super Bowl XLV next February at Cowboys Stadium.
But it won’t be the Dallas Cowboys.
Jackson, the former Broncos linebacker and longtime analyst on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Wednesday picked the Texans and Packers to play for the Lombardi Trophy.
“I think this is a team that is ready to get to the playoffs,” Jackson said. “I know that they’re in a tough division with a team that always wins 12 games (the Colts), and much will be found out in that first game.
“But keep in mind that the last two years, we have had the New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl and the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl. This is not a league of haves and have-nots. It’s the haves and the ‘we will have pretty soons.’ ”
While he made his living on defense for many years, Jackson said offense in today’s NFL “is where you make hay” and that the Texans are set in that department with the likes of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson.
“I think that Matt Schaub is highly underrated for what he does,” Jackson said, “and I think that Gary Kubiak) has them thinking they are a successful team. So I’m taking my shot with a team that has plays pretty darn good defense and has an awfully good passing game.
“You watch a team, you get a feeling and you go. I could be wrong, but we’ll see.”
Jackson’s comments were greeted with some surprise later Wednesday by CBS Sports analysts called, but though none was prepared to endorse the Texans outright, none was ready to write them off, either.
“You can make a case for it,” said former Giants quarterback Phil Simms. “It comes out of nowhere, but you know that Super Bowl champions come from teams that didn’t make the playoffs the year before all the time. A lot of pieces are in place for the Texans. They have the names up front on defense, and I don’t have any questions about the offensive side.”
Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, an analyst on CBS’ The NFL Today, said the Texans were “ready to make the next step” but said the secondary “will be tested and tested often. That will be a barometer of where they are.”
Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, also an analyst on The NFL Today, said the Texans’ difficult schedule makes the Texans a long shot.
“I won’t say they won’t, but they will have a tough road,” Marino said.