And yet, ESPN has offered some glimmer of hope for Houston Texans fans heading into the 2019 season, which begins just a short seven months from now.
After the final whistle of the big game Sunday night, ESPN's Dan Graziano published his "Ten bold predictions for 2019 season," which tosses out a scenario in which the Texans acquire running back Le'Veon Bell.
Bell sat out the entire 2018 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, holding out for a long-term contract to remain with the black and yellow.
In 2019, Bell becomes a free agent, and Graziano says he'll fetch offers from lower-tier teams. He believes, though, that the Texans will bet it all on the 26-year-old.
"Houston wins out by selling Bell on what he can do in an offense that features Deshaun Watson at quarterback and DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver," Graziano pens.
Watson is 23, Hopkins is 26, and there's a potential for long-term success with a triple-threat including Bell.
Of course, Graziano cautions that Houston must address the offensive line. Still, he is betting on Bell and his ability as a "BYOB" back, or "bring your own blocking."
The Bell-to-Houston scenario is a chief reason that Graziano pegs the Texans as the 2019 AFC champions, breaking the three-year streak held tightly by the New England.
"Yeah, it's crazy not to pick the Patriots to win the AFC at this point, but a way-too-early predictions column isn't the place to take the easy way out," he writes.
Of course, getting to the Super Bowl and winning one are two different things. Houston gets trounced by the redemption-seeking New Orleans Saints in Miami next February, the article forecasts.
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