When the New England Patriots meet the Houston Texans on Sunday, we will see a primetime game between two of the AFC’s best teams fighting for playoff positioning: the 10-1 Patriots are currently the top seed in the conference — ahead of the red-hot 9-2 Baltimore Ravens — while the Texans are number three with a 7-4 record, trying to stay in front of the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC and on top of their division.
When looking at the latest FanPulse numbers to come out of Houston, however, one would not necessarily expect the team to be this well-positioned when it comes to making the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years and earning the AFC South title number six. Texans fans were asked how they would feel about the direction their team was headed in, and only 31% of the participants answered the question in positive fashion.
This approval rating ranks the team’s fan base as just the 18th most confident in the league after 12 weeks of regular season action. For comparison, fans of the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans — both entering the week at 6-5 and still in contention for a playoff spot and maybe even the division crown — feel better about their respective teams at this point in time: the Colts score 52% on the confidence meter (14th), the Titans 66% (11th).
Not all is bad for the Texans, though, when it comes to their fan bases feelings. After all, the FanPulse score improved quite a bit since hitting only 16% after the team’s 41-7 blowout loss against the Ravens in Week 11. Last Thursday’s 20-17 win against the Colts, however, unsurprisingly changed the feelings surrounding a team that still has the inside lane to win its division and make the playoffs either a champion or maybe even a wild card team.
On the other side of the fan confidence spectrum, we find the Patriots this week. The team’s fan base has moved between 96% and 82% ever since the season began, and currently sits at 91% — up nine points compared to last week’s season-low. How did New England’s fan confidence bounce back again? It’s easy: the team’s defense shut down one of the NFL’s most productive offenses in Week 12, while its own offense finally showed some signs of life.
Add it all up, and you get fans that are among the most confident in all of football again. Trailing only the Ravens’ and the San Francisco 49ers’ fan bases, who both come in with a 100% approval rating, New England’s ranks third in the league. It might be the holiday spirit, but Patriots followers appear to feel good about the team in the middle of its toughest stretch of the season — and for good reason considering the recent developments.