Ever since the moment Houston pivoted back to Brock Osweiler as their starting quarterback, Osweiler has tried to live by a credo that sounds good in theory.
"I told myself, 'If you get an opportunity to go back in, just go have fun,'" Osweiler said, via ESPN.com. "Get back to the joy of football. Get back to what drew you into this sport at such a young age.' I think when you're able to play for the fun of the game, for the love of the game, passion comes with that.
"So, I just ran out there, I said a little joke to the offensive linemen, everyone had a good little laugh, and that's really what it was."
As I noted in the Texans-Raiders preview, this game is all about Osweiler. Entering the game with a fresh perspective might give him an advantage after such a disastrous season, but he'll be quickly reminded of the undo burden placed on a franchise quarterback in a new town who recently received a large sum of money.
Without their first or second-string quarterbacks, Oakland can roll into Houston with absolutely nothing to lose. The Texans, deploying basically the same offense they started the year with, are laying their entire 2016 philosophy on the line; one which already forced the coaching staff to bench Osweiler once this season.
"When you do become the backup, you're able to observe a lot more," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said. "You're able to observe in practice, in the games, in the meetings. I think that it helped him. He was able to go out there against Tennessee and I think he played freely. He let it rip. We spread the ball around."
Saturday's game will be fascinating in that it will force a good player to regain the confidence and ability he lost in real time. We've seen what people refer to as a bounce back performance, but have we ever seen someone throw a season's worth of baggage (and largely below-expectation performances) by the wayside and direct the team to a playoff victory?