The powers that be at SB Nation asked every NFL site to answer nine (9) questions about its respective team as it prepares to enter the 2013 regular season. Those questions, and my answers, are below.
1. Who is the easiest player on the roster to root for?
BRB:: J.J. Watt is the quick answer here. He's beloved in Houston like few other athletes have ever been.
But fans of the Houston Texans would be remiss if they didn't give considerable thought to answering this question with the name of Andre Johnson. He's been the face of this franchise since 2003, and 'Dre makes every Texans fan proud to be a supporter of this organization. He's one of the best in the world at his craft. He's active in the community. He was, quite simply, one of the only reasons to keep rooting for this team throughout the dark years of the Charley Casserly Era. J.J. Watt has the city in the palm of his hand, but Andre Johnson has carried this team like no one else.
2. If you could buy a ticket to just one game this year...
BRB: Really, really tough call. The Texans are fortunate (?) enough to have games against the 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens, Patriots, and Broncos this year. I suppose I'd lean toward the Texans-Niners game, even though jockeying for seeding in the AFC makes those Patriots and Broncos games (both of which will be at Reliant Stadium) more important.
3. Which veterans could be cut before the season due to salary cap issues?
BRB: None were cut, and if I'd answered this question earlier, my answer would have still been "None." The Texans spilled their fiscal blood when they let Glover Quin, Connor Barwin, and James Casey walk during free agency.
4. Which second year player is going to make the biggest leap?
BRB: I'm betting it's Brandon Brooks. Brooks will be starting at right guard; the Texans desperately need to shore that side of the line up, and Brooks is being counted on to be a sizable part of the solution (especially with questions remaining at right tackle). Brooks has gotten rave reviews throughout training camp and the preseason, so it's fair to expect him to be the guy who makes a quantum leap in his second year.
5. What are the odds of your head coach getting fired?
BRB: Extraordinarily low. If Gary Kubiak didn't get canned after the Texans went 6-10 in 2010, it's difficult to imagine him getting fired now. I suppose it's possible that a complete disaster of a campaign (e.g., 6-10 or worse) would be enough to inspire Bob McNair to make a change. Absent that sort of meltdown, Kubes isn't going anywhere. Heck, even if the team did go 6-10, I wouldn't be stunned to see McNair stay the course with Kubiak.
6. What franchise or NFL records could be broken this season?
BRB: I'm really hoping the 2013 Houston Texans do something about the franchise's all-time 0-2 record in AFC Divisional Playoff games.
7. Which rookies will see regular playing time this year?
BRB: DeAndre Hopkins will immediately start opposite Andre Johnson at wide receiver. D.J. Swearinger should see the field in dime packages; he'll see even more snaps if Ed Reed is limited or misses any appreciable amount of time. Oddly enough, the final rookie who has a chance to get sporadic snaps is a guy who wasn't even drafted; Willie Jefferson could find himself in the rotation at outside linebacker, especially on passing downs and/or if Whitney Mercilus doesn't get healthy.
8. Predict the order of finish in your division.
9. What do you expect your season-end record will be?
BRB: 11-5. That'll be good enough for a third consecutive AFC South crown. We'll see if the Texans can break through and play a game on the third playoff weekend.