Another year another season of not getting over the hump. This one stings too, The Texans started 5-0 and then went to 11-1 before everything fell apart at the end of the season. They skidded into the playoffs, going 1-3 down the stretch and losing both the first seed and then their first round bye in the process. They did manage to win their wild card game against the Bengals for the second straight year but then fell short again. This team has developed and added the requisite talent to win now and with players like Andre Johnson and Ed Reed on the wrong side of 30, the walls are closing in.
S – Ed Reed
P – Shane Lechler
WR – DeAndre Hopkins
LB – Connor Barwin
S – Glover Quin
TE – James Casey
Arian Foster leads an offense that was very potent in 2012 and could be even better in 2013. Foster was his usual dominant self with over 1,400 yards and a league-leading 17 TDs. Where the improvement can come from on the running side is backup Ben Tate. Tate was incredible in 2011 and if he can bring back the magic he’s shown before this could be the most dangerous running unit in the league…. if it isn’t already.
For years Andre Johnson has been the guy. The only real stud in he receiving corps. No one with explosive talent to draw the constant double-teams off of him. He’s lived with this relatively quietly until now. He now has two potential stud receivers to draw some attention away from him. Keshawn Martin was drafted last year to handle the return duties but has been so impressive he should have a chance to take the slot job. The Texans used their 1st round pick this year to take DeAndre Hopkins and he should be starting opposite Johnson right from week 1. He was dynamite at the combine and turned a lot of heads with his athleticism.
it seems like little things just keep happening to this unit. Aside from JJ Watt dominating every snap he’s on the field for, they can’t buy a break. Last year Brian Cushing(easily the second most talented defensive player they have) went down, and when they felt they’d weathered the storm and found a way to deal with not having him in the line-up they lost Darryl Sharpton. It’s been a bout of bad luck but the front seven is as dangerous as any in the league and although losing Connor Barwin isn’t ideal, they should be even better than last year if everyone stays healthy,
In the secondary they gained Ed Reed but lost Glover Quin. From an intangibles standpoint it’s a massive win. Reed probably doesn’t have the energy Quin still does but who the heck knows. Ed Reed seems like he’s supposed to slow down every year and doesn’t so maybe he’ll be just as good as always again.
Shane Lechler was brought in to replace Donnie Jones who had an excellent year in 2012. Strange perhaps, but Lechler might be the best in the history of the game so I suppose the switch is worth it. Randy Bullock spent last season on IR and had to watch Shayne Graham take his job and score a team record 138 points. This year the kicking job is his but he knows he has huge shoes to fill. Keshawn Martin should be handling the return duties and he had a great rookie season. He should continue to put up above-average numbers.
For all of the flak that Gary Kubiak takes for never having won the big one, you’d think he was really bad at his job. He isn’t. When teams win the Super Bowl you always hear about how everything went right for the team(no injuries, lucky bounces, if you’re the 2012 Ravens you have officials making blatantly incorrect calls so you can beat the Broncos etc). Kubiak is at the stage BEFORE that. He’s at the part where in the speech they say “Ya know, we started to think something was against us with all the bad luck the past few years”. This just might be that year and people will realize how good Kubiak is at his job.
The Studs: Arian Foster is most people’s pick as #2 overall and he’s my pick as #3 overall(I have McCoy at #2). Either way he is a massive fantasy horse who will guarantee to get you massive numbers. Andre Johnson is the next beast on this team and he should easily be a top 10 WR. He may no longer be a top 5-7 option but that only means Hopkins has impressed and that’s better for everyone.
The Workers: Schaub hands the ball off too many times to be elite but he’s still good for 4,000 yards and 20 TDs. Owen Daniels is also a top 10 fantasy TE.
Sleeper: DeAndre Hopkins is my boy and I’ll ride him all year. He has all the talent in the world. He’s one of those guys who could explode on to the scene.
Overrated: Possibly Ben Tate?? But this year will show us.
Should Win: @San Diego, Tennessee, St Louis, @Kansas City, @Arizona, Oakland, Jacksonville, @Jacksonville, @Tennessee
Favourite: Seattle, Indianapolis
Toss Up: New England, @Indianapolis
In Tough: @Baltimore, @San Francisco, Denver
Thoughts: This is a very forgiving schedule. Playing the NFC West will be tough but getting the AFC West is a blessing. They have 3 games in which they will probably not be the favourite. Winning 12 games with this schedule shouldn’t be difficult. You can assume they’ll lose 1 of 2 to the Colts and 2 of the 3 games in which they are not the favourite. They’ll likely bleed one more and finish 12-4 again. This year it should be enough for a bye though.