The Texans have it all to lose now. They are 8 – 1 and are the most convincing team in the League. The Falcons are also 8 – 1 and no-one can figure out how. The lack of belief in the Falcons is based on their lack of a well rounded team. They depend on Matty Ice to get it done and if he has an off day? Well, expect a loss. When a team depends on a QB to show up, it can end the way the Colts did last season without Peyton. Look at the Broncos now with Manning. He is the number one rated QB in the League this season and it shows.
Texas, however, have a well rounded team and after 9 games, their weapons have stayed healthy. Their Offense and Defense are deadly and they will undoubtedly start to wind down the season from here on out. After they have secured the Playoff berth, they can afford to rest their stars and head into the Playoffs with a healthy roster. As long as they stave off injury, there is no reason why the Texans can’t secure the top seed in the AFC and gain home field advantage. Some teams don’t get the full benefit from this, but if there is one thing that can be said about the Texan Reliant Stadium, the noise levels really are bigger and better in Texas. They face stiff competition for the top seed from a resurgent Patriot side but if they play the Pats in Reliant, the noise levels will be a factor on drowning out Brady’s quick no huddle offense and audible calling. Noise levels alone, the Texan’s D is ridiculous this year. They sit in the top three in yards and points allowed this season with J.J Watt being touted as this years MVP in the 2nd best Defense in the League.
Offensively, Matt Schaub is not classed as elite. But, that is a good thing. With most elite QBs, the team suffers. They end up relying too much on the QB and the organisation tends to have to use up a large chunk of salary cap to retain his services. Schaub gets the job done. If you look at the offensive stats, the Texans lie outside the top 5 in Total Offense, rushing and passing. Again, this is a good thing. If you look at the teams that sit in the top 5, they tend to have deficiencies. For instance, the Lions are number one in passing. This is because Stafford has to sling the ball all game because they have no run game. Where are the Lions now? Bottom of their division. The Texans spread the responsibility equally between the run and the pass. They have shown that they stick to this formula with great success and depend on not only their stars to turn up on game day, but also their back ups. Ben Tate is averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Quite a stat for a back up RB. The Texans are also utilizing the Tight End position to great effect. Their 2nd best receiving player is Owen Daniels. He currently only has 9 less receptions than their no.1 Andre Johnson. Daniels has an average receiving yardage figure of 12.9 yards per reception where Johnson has 13ypr. Daniels doesn’t get enough attention but again, the Texans shouldn’t complain. Less attention and noise means that Daniels can carry on making big plays and avoiding the double coverage a TE like the Gronk or Hernandez gets.
The Texans secondary is also devastating. Jonathon Joseph is really starting to make people sit up and pay attention. He completely shut out Brandon Marshall in the Bears game and that is no small task. Kareem Jackson is also stepping up to the plate. He now has 4 picks this season and some of this might be due to the likes of Watt swatting balls at the line of scrimmage. Either way, it shows that the unit is working. They are getting after the receivers and forcing turnovers. They are adept at closing down the WR and forcing fumbles. The Texas D have such a disruptive effect on the opponents offense from the line of scrimmage to the safeties and a lot of credit should be given to their defensive co-ordinator Wade Phillips.
The Texans remaining schedule features the Jags, Lions, Titans, Patriots, Vikings and the Colts twice. The only challenge I see here is the Patriots at Gillette stadium. If they put Brady away, they will sit atop the AFC as the number one seed. They could potentially see the Pats visit in the Reliant if the first AFC wildcard round between the Steelers and the Patriots ends in a NE win. The list of potential NFC champions is still so open. As it stands, the Falcons and the Bears await the winners of the Wild Card rounds. I would be bold enough to predict that, as it stands, the Niners defeat the Seahawks and then beat the Falcons. This would result in the Niners facing the Packers or Giants for the conference. The Superbowl may end up a very Defense orientated one but the Texans will take that every day of the week for a chance to be crowned champions. Their transformation from laughing stock newbies to NFL heavyweights is almost complete. The Superbowl trophy would be the knockout punch to all the doubters.