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Houston Texans can still make playoffs despite 0-2 start

Ryan Mallett hopes to build on his first start of the season and right the Texans' ship. Patric Schneider/AP

Why the Houston Texans can make the playoffs: Two years ago, this organization started 2-0 and then lost the rest of its games. Though the staff and many of the players have turned over since then, it's a good reminder the first two games of the season might not mean much. According to ESPN Stats and & Information's Football Power Index, the Texans have a 17 percent chance to make the playoffs. That might seem slim, but it's the fourth-best chance of the 0-2 teams. If the defense improves as it did last season and quarterback Ryan Mallett builds on his first start of the season, the Texans can make up the ground they need in a struggling AFC South. And Arian Foster won't be out too much longer.

Why the Houston Texans won't make the playoffs: Since the new playoff format in 1990, only 12 percent of 0-2 teams have made the playoffs. Among all teams who have made the playoffs, only eight percent have started the season 0-2. It's not an insurmountable lead, so much as the symptom of problems that can persist. Can the Texans do better against deep passes on which they've given up three touchdowns already? Can they contain running quarterbacks who they aren't finished facing yet? Can their offense improve enough at least to help the defense? These problems all arose in the Texans' first two games, and if they last, their playoff drought will extend.

Predicted finish: 7-9. The Titans and Jaguars have had a stronger-than-expected start, but when the dust settles, the Texans will at least have an even record in the division, accounting for three of their wins. They'll also play the Buccaneers, Falcons, Dolphins, Jets, Saints, Bengals, Bills and Patriots. As things stand right now, the Falcons, Jets, Bengals, Bills and Patriots all look stronger than the Texans, but it has been only two games and the landscape can shift. I'd also expect the Texans to win at least one game against a team seen as better. We'll go with the Bengals, against whom Mallett will want some revenge given last year's 22-13 loss.