Houston Texans NFL

Grabbing the bull by the horns? Texans predictions

HOUSTON, TX- SEPTEMBER 28: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans celebrates with teammates after returning an interception for a 80 yard touchdown against the Buffalo Bills inn the third quarter in a NFL game on September 28, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

So now we come to Houston and the house that JJ built. What are the 2016 expectations for the Houston Texans in the AFC South? Will they sprint to the postseason or put themselves on the path to another season of “Hard Knocks”? There are pros and cons to each side.

PROS

If we only had a quarterback… Oh, wait

The quarterback positions with the Houston Texans over the past couple of seasons has been as unpredictable as an episode of “Game of Thrones.” Fans have waited with baited breath to figure out if the person behind center will finally give the Texans the success they were looking for – or if they’re just a stop-gap for the next person in line.

Well, it looks like Rick Smith was sick of the stop-gap; he signed Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72-million deal, half guaranteed – the definition of “putting all the cards on the table.” It’s not a bad gamble – you have a quarterback who studied under Sherriff Peyton Manning and has a fresh Super Bowl ring to prove it. Last year, Osweiler threw for 1,967 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions and a pair of fumbles – not too shabby. Where the Texans got close to a franchise quarterback with Matt Schaub, 25-year-old Osweiler has the potential to give the Texans the franchise quarterback they have been looking for. He’s got something to prove, and that is sure to show on the field this season.

Have a little help from my line

Along with the signing of Brock Osweiler, Rick Smith made a couple of offensive decisions that were pretty smart, too. With the pickup of running back Lamar Miller from the Miami Dolphins, Osweiler will have a lot of help. With DeAndre Hopkins ranked as one of the best receivers in the game, this could change things for the Texans. Even with below-average quarterbacks, Hopkins posted consecutive 1,200-yard seasons with mind-blowing statistics last season alone (1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns on 111 receptions).

A defense to be proud of

JJ Watt. Whitney Mercilus. Jadaveon Clowney. Brian Cushing. Bernardrick McKinney. Johnathan Joseph. Kareem Jackson. Kevin Johnson. Vince Wilfork. Texans fans, this is your defensive powerhouse. They were best in the league last season – and it’s a real possibility they have gotten better. After Vince Wilfork’s Paul Bunyan impression on “Hard Knocks,” we know they are fired up. Now, it’s just time to sit back with the popcorn and watch them work.

CONS

Oh captain, my captain

Anyone reading this statement would assume it’s directed at Tony Romo, but no – this is actually for JJ Watt. JJ underwent surgery in mid-July for a herniated disc in his back and is slated to come back in the season opener against the Bears. We all know Watt is superhuman – but there are concerns that his return might be a little too soon. Time will tell, but even without him, the Texans’ defense will be a force to be reckoned with.

A stacked schedule

This year, Houston has it hard. Road games include Jacksonville, Indy, New England, Minnesota, Denver, Oakland and Green Bay. Even with a Brady-less New England, Bill Bellicheck is the Sith Lord on the sideline.

Two of the home games that can cause some concern for the Houston faithful are against Cincinnati and Kansas City. The last thing Houston needs is a repeat of last season’s AFC wild-card game. The Chiefs handed them a 30-0 lynching – something the team is probably still recovering from. With the changes to the offense and the sheer power of the Texans’ defense, there could be vast differences in the level of play this season from last. Although the team was in playoff contention last season, the goal is to get deep into the playoffs, and possibly go to the Super Bowl. As you can see, several teams are standing in their way.

A little uncertainty

With JJ Watt still in recovery mode and Osweiler the new kid behind center, you just can’t predict how things will go. Watt is one of those players you can never count out. He was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year and has consistently backed up any hype surrounding him.

The major concern is that his return might be a little too soon – only evaluating his progress after the Bears game will prove whether the choice to bring him back Week 1 was the smartest decision to make. Brock Osweiler is ready to go, but as the starting quarterback for the Texans vying to become the franchise, he’s got a lot to prove. His play in preseason and in camp has shown he is capable of doing the job – now it’s just watching what happens under the big, bright lights of NRG Stadium.

The Texans can win the AFC South, but the Colts and Andrew Luck might have something to say about that. Regardless, it will be interesting! Are you ready for some FOOTBALL!?!?!?

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