No. 18: Houston Texans

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 7, 2012, 12:00 PM ET
By Morty Ain | ESPN The Magazine

Last Year's Rank: 77
Title Track: 53
Ownership: 30
Coaching: 62
Players: 20
Fan Relations: 17
Affordability: 49
Stadium Experience: 22
Bang for the Buck: 17

How much did the playoffs mean to Texans fans? Try a 59-spot jump in our standings. Heck, the Super Bowl-winning Giants moved up only 33. For years the Texans have been trotting out one of the best game-day experiences in football: a 45-person, collegiate-style pep band, stacked brew options (Blue Moon, Fat Tire, St. Arnold) and air conditioning pumped to the max (it's nice when the boss owns an energy company). This year, the Texans even put transportation on the house with a free metro train, wrapped in Andre Johnson's likeness, that pulls up every 12 minutes. Then there's the tailgate, which is a competitive sport in Houston -- literally. Tailgater of the Game judges patrol the grounds to crown a champion of the flattop grill, like Week 13 winners the Edu-Gaters, who specialized in diablo bites and barbecue quail. Pretty nice little Sunday, especially when a chair in Houston is nearly $40 cheaper than one in Dallas. There was just that one nagging problem: The season always ended in Week 17. And who leads the Texans to the promised land? Not Matt Schaub, Matt Leinart or even Jake Delhomme, but fifth-round pick T.J. Yates. It's enough to make Gary Kubiak tolerable. Despite a Fire Gary Kubiak rally in January 2011, FireGaryKubiak.com shut down for the self-described reason of "Havin' To Eat Crow ..." No word on whether that crow was smoked to perfection.