WHAT'S AT STAKE?

If you think there's nothing on the line for Texans Week 1, consider this

Losing to the Jaguars this Sunday would be a big deal. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston Texans waited until now to announce that Tyrod Taylor will be their starting quarterback Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Shocker! You mean just because Taylor started every pre-season game, who took all the first-time snaps in practice, who's their only quarterback with experience who'll be active Sunday … you mean he's the starter for Game One?

What's the Texans' next stunner? That the weather forecast for Sunday will be toasty and the NRG Stadium roof will be closed?

The Texans' opener may break the record for earliest "must win" game in NFL annals. The team is skating on thin ice with fans, who think the owner is a dunce, his top adviser is a mystical nut job, the general manager and head coach are first-timers in their positions, and their gifted quarterback is either a serial sexual predator or the victim of one of the greatest extortion schemes in criminal history.

Sunday's game against the Jaguars looks like the easiest date on the Texans schedule. The game is in Houston. The Jaguars finished with a league-worst 1-15 mark last year. They have a new head coach and a rookie quarterback who hasn't exactly dazzled in pre-season games. The Jaguars were mocked during training camp for trying out Tim Tebow, which probably didn't sit well with the rest of their borderline players with actual football talent.

Here's how awful and hopeless the Jacksonville Jaguars are: they're "only" 3-point favorites to beat the Texans on the road in Houston.

If the Texans lose Sunday, all bets are off for the rest of the season (unless you take the under on everything). With season ticket sales slumping, many of the fans Sunday will be first-time, single-game ticket-buyers. First impressions mean a lot. If the Jaguars win, you know the expression … fool me once, shame on the Texans.

Fool me twice, in the words of Apollo Creed at the end of Rocky … ain't gonna be no rematch.

One dumb play call, there will be howling that David Culley is in over his head, no wonder no other team offered him a head coaching job in his three decades in the league.

Worst case scenario, one fumble or Pick Six by Taylor and the crowd will start chanting for wayward quarterback Watson. If No. 4 is on the sidelines and turns to acknowledge the cheers, all hell will break loose. You think the crowd at the ancient Roman Coliseum was bloodthirsty?

If the crowd learns that Watson is sitting upstairs in a luxury suite, fans may figuratively and literally turn their back on the team to salute Watson. That will be humiliating for the Texans. And tonight's lead story on SportsCenter …

The Texans would be smart to order Watson to stay home. If he does come to NRG Field, suggest he wears a fake mustache and sombrero. The best plan would be to book Watson a seat on Jeff Bezos' next rocket ship flight, and when the rocket gets close to the edge of outer space - keep going.

Now it's entirely possible (although Vegas thinks unlikely) that the Texans will beat the Jaguars on Sunday. If that happens, the team, coach Culley, owner Floyd the Barber, general manager Nick Caserio, quarterback Taylor and everybody in the organization will get a reprieve.

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After Texans DE Charles Omenihu voiced his support for Deshaun Watson this week, ESPN Houston's John Granato and Josh Jordan discuss how the Texans handling of the Watson saga will have big implications on their organizational reputation. Plus, how Omenihu and Watson sharing the same agent could make this tricky moving forward.

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