With the regular season about to start, many teams are looking towards an encouraging 2016 campaign. The Houston Texans are no different, looking to repeat as AFC South Champions.
The Houston Texans will repeat as AFC South Champs
The Texans had a successful regular season last year, finishing 9-7. That record was good enough to win the AFC South. Keep in mind that the Indianapolis Colts were without star quarterback Andrew Luck, who missed most of the season with an injury. The Texans met their demise in the playoffs at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, 30-0. It didn’t help that the Texans couldn’t find a permanent solution at the quarterback position. They used a total of four starting quarterbacks last season. Houston used Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden. The Texans seem to have found the answer in Brock Osweiler, who signed a multi-year deal in the offseason as a free agent.
A lot of critics will say that the Colts will easily win the division with a healthy Andrew Luck. There is a lot of promise in the idea of a healthy Luck throwing to Donte Moncrief, T.Y. Hilton, and Dwayne Allen. Frank Gore will likely have another 1,000+ yard rushing season, as he has done so many times before.
Defense Wins Championships
The one thing that’s different this season is the collective defense for Houston. Assuming Jadeveon Clowney plays the way a former number one overall pick is supposed to play, Clowney could be a monster on the outside. Whitney Mercilus is expected to have a better year than last year, where he amassed 12 sacks. A healthy Brian Cushing could also show up in an “all-star” cast on defense for Houston. Not to mention Houston easily has the best defensive lineman and player in the league in J.J. Watt. Watt had back surgery in the offseason and was expected not to be ready to start week one, though some sources report that he may indeed be ready for week one against the Chicago Bears. Vince Wilfork also provides priceless value to the team and defense as a Super Bowl veteran nose tackle. As we move into the secondary, most teams will avoid throwing the ball towards Johnathan Joseph. Joseph had the best grading of pass coverage of any cornerback the last 14 games of the 2015 season.
Keys to the Offense
The free agent signings of Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller are fundamental if Houston has any chance at repeating. Miller had a standout year in 2015 with the Miami Dolphins and looks to repeat that success in Houston. DeAndre Hopkins is sure to dazzle this season, as the 2015 breakout star will look for many a ball thrown his way from his new quarterback. The Texans also picked up rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller in the draft, and both show enough promise to see some significant playing time this season. Jaelen Strong and Cecil Shorts III also look to improve on their 2015 campaigns, hoping to be threats enough to pull defenders off of Hopkins.
Another young player to watch after is running back Tyler Ervin, out of San Jose State. The rookie is fast. Ervin had one of the fastest 40 yard-dash times at the NFL Combine and will look to make his presence known on Special Teams.
Houston has definitely acquired the necessary tools this offseason to repeat as AFC South champs. Whether through free agency or the draft, the tools are in place. Look for the Texans to improve on their record from last season, and make another run for the playoffs. How sweet it would be for Houston fans if the hometown team was able to play in the Super Bowl its city was hosting.
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