At the end of The Big Short, a movie about houses or the housing market or banks or the banking market (if that’s even a thing), Ryan Gosling’s character holds a check for $47,000,000. He thumbs over the numbers, absorbing their strength, feeling very good about himself, feeling very good about how the universe has decided to treat him. He got the check by making some guess about how the housing market was going to collapse and so blah blah blah and then blah blah blah and then finally blah blah blah. The specifics don’t matter. What matters is that he saw it coming, that he bet on it, and that he was correct. And so he gets to enjoy the rewards.
“So I was right,” he says, and his hair is dyed black and he looks ridiculous but also cool. “I took a rashy shit for two years but I was right, and … everyone was wrong.”
That scene was the first thing I thought about at the end of Saturday’s AFC wild-card game between the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders. Quarterback Brock Osweiler, who spent basically all of the 2016 season getting skewered for his poor play and extravagant free-agent contract ($72 million total, $37 million guaranteed), finally did what the Texans bet he’d do when they signed him this past offseason: He played like a professional quarterback — or, as Jon Gruden put it at one point late in the second half, “He played mistake-free football.”
By the end of the Texans’ 27–14 win, Brock had thrown for a touchdown, run for a touchdown, and handed the ball to the Raiders zero times. The Texans’ point total tied their prior high from any other contest this season.
Last season, the Texans lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs 30–0 to the Chiefs. It was a disaster. Their last playoff run prior to that one saw their 2012 season conclude in the second round, when the Patriots axed them in the forehead 41–28 (which somehow felt worse than the 30–0 game). Next week, those Patriots or Chiefs will again be waiting in the second round. Beating them will be far tougher than it was to beat the injury-ridden Raiders on Saturday. Beating them will basically be impossible, no matter how well Brock manages to play.
But that’s for next week. This week, Brock gets to sit there, right at his locker, right in front of everyone, thumbing over the numbers of his $37,000,000 check, feeling very good about himself and the way the universe just treated him.