The Houston Texans have been steadily improving over the past few years. Last year, they hit a milestone with their first ever winning season. Next year, we can only expect more from this team.
I have Houston ranked 12th overall, behind Indianapolis in the division, and directly behind Atlanta. For those of you who don't know, 12th place is prime for wild card position. With that in mind, here are ten things you can expect from next year's Texans:
1. Week 1 Upset of the Colts
This is one of the steepest predictions I will make, considering their 1-15 all-time record against Indy. If you recall, the only time we did beat them was on Christmas Eve of '06. It was called a "Christmas Miracle". Houston is motivated now more than ever to go into this season and start strong. Beating the Super Bowl runner-ups would be an outstanding way to do that.
2. The Texans will win 10 or more games
First of all, beating the Colts would be a huge momentum boost. (1-0) Game 2 is in DC taking on Donovan McNabb, which we'll win if we've beaten Indy. (2-0) With all this momentum rolling, a win at home against Dallas isn't out of reach. (3-0) Then a visit to Oakland shouldn't be troubling. (4-0) Hosting Eli's Giants will give us another win. (5-0) Then Bonecrusher's reunion party with the Chiefs will end in victory. (6-0) We're undefeated at the bye, so playoffs don't seem out of reach. Remember though, the Broncos were 6-0 last season and finished 8-8 out of they playoffs. After the break, Houston meets agony for the first time this year, losing in Indy. (6-1) Falling off cloud 9 should prove fatal hosting the Chargers the following week. (6-2) A win in Jacksonville should provide for a little help. (7-2) But they lose again in East Rutherford to the Jets. (7-3) After an enticing pep talk from Coach Kubiak, Houston gets back to winning form against the Titans.... (8-3) and lose it against the Eagles. (8-4) Having the Ravens come to us helps enough for a win. (9-4) A loss in Tennessee causes anger. (9-5) However, consecutive wins in Denver (10-5) and versus Jacksonville (11-5) should be enough to win the wild card race. Although the Patriots missed the playoffs two years ago with an 11-5 record, so it just goes to show you anything is possible.
3. Ben Tate will rush for the most yards
Steve Slaton is coming out of a season where he had more fumbles than rushing TDs. Arian Foster finished strong, with 119 yds & 2 TDs in a win. But Ben Tate is entering out of the college game, where he posted 1362 yds & 10 TDs as a senior at Auburn. This is kind of a no-brainer.
4. Jacoby Jones will step out of the shadows
Jacoby Jones has been a solid kick returner the last two years, but he's ready to be a solid #2 receiver. So move over Kevin Walter, Jacoby's taking over.
5. Matt Schaub has a repeat performance
Last year, Matt Schaub led the NFL in passing yards, with 4,770 total. That, combined with his 29 TDs & Pro Bowl MVP, says he was among the best quarterbacks last year. Don't expect the same this year, but he will finish near such stats, at least in the top 8 in passing yards.
6. Andre Johnson will be the best receiver in the league again
Over 1500 yards the last two seasons. Need I say more?
7. The Texans do much better in the AFC South
Last year: 1-5 Only win was because Fisher didn't realize that Kerry Collins is old as dirt for six weeks.
This year: 4-2 Losses: @ Indy (4th) @ Tennessee (16th)
8. Texans definitely make the playoffs
I've already shown you my season predictions. If they finish 11-5, that's probably #1 WC behind Indy'.
9. Texans win the AFC South
If Drew Brees and his New Orleans voodoo cronies cursed the Madden Curse, then that should reverse it onto Peyton Manning. If PM is out with injury, Painter would lead the Colts to an outstanding season of....... 5-11, 3rd behind Houston's 12-4, & Tennessee's 10-6, but ahead of Jacksonville's 4-12.
10. Houston can do some damage in the postseason
If Peyton Manning is good to go, Indy is the #1 seed in the AFC, followed by San Diego or Baltimore. San Diego will probably get that spot by way of no competition in-division. Baltimore is therefore the #3 seed, followed by Jets at #4. Houston gets 5 seed, & Cincy or New England (probably the latter) gets #6 seed. If Houston faces the Jets, they have hope (if contract situation submerges Revis Island) throwing over Antonio Cromartie. If they face Baltimore, they have a chance because they beat them already this year, but this is in Baltimore so it could be a different story. (NFC is #1 NO, #2 GB, #3 DAL, #4 SF, #5 MIN, #6 ATL) Besides, Houston is 3-3 against playoff teams. So it could go either way. But even if they lose, they'll at least make it interesting.