The Houston Texans Will Once Again Reign Supreme in the AFC South
Click bait. We all know it, and we all hate it.
Stay seated though, as this is not among the popular opinions and stays true to the headline.
The Houston Texans will reclaim the AFC Southern division. Yes, Indianapolis has the ultimate bearded gunslinger in Andrew Luck. Yes, Indianapolis has claimed the top offensive talent in Texans’ franchise history in Andre Johnson. Yes, The Houston Texans’ record against the Colts is an abysmal 4-22.
The status quo is going to change rapidly for these two squads.
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The Texans’ quarterback situation is murky, but still clearer than it was at this time in 2014. After playing through a combination of four different quarterbacks, having a stronger, more consistent offense should not be a challenge in 2015.
Brian Hoyer vs. Ryan Mallett has been discussed from every angle possible and only time will tell as to which QB receives the keys from head coach Bill O’Brien. History would deem Mallett to be the wise choice, as Hoyer is the 6th least accurate passer since entering the league in 2009.
That being said, the quarterback for the Texans in 2015 should not be the end all, be all to their success.
Rather, the ability of the defense to improve on a stellar campaign and the skill players that surround the signal caller will determine if these Texans can dethrone the Colts in the upcoming season.
Going into the tail end of the season, the Houston defense kicked it up a notch. They led the AFC and ranked 3rd overall in the NFL allowing only 293 yards per game. Logic says that getting comfortable in a new scheme, gaining trust for and from other players and coaches, and hitting a stride can explain why they performed so well in those last seven contests. Not only did they do that, but for the entire 2014 season the Texans allowed opponents to convert on only 33.9% of third down attempts, ranking 3rd best in the NFL. There is legitimate reason to believe that they will only improve on these numbers heading into fall; being in year two of defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel’s system, key additions in free agency and through the NFL Draft, and having injured players return to the field.
Arian Foster’s health will play a pivotal role in unseating the Colts as well. When he is healthy, he is arguably the best all-around running back in the NFL. Even while missing essentially 5 games due to injury last year, he finished 6th overall in total rushing yards. He also finished 2nd overall in rushing yards per game, only trailing DeMarco Murray, who was the NFL’s leading rusher in 2014.
Andrew Luck is the engine that makes this team chug. He is, without a doubt, their unquestioned leader. Adding running back Frank Gore and receiver Andre Johnson via free agency just gives this magnificent talent more weapons to play with. It would not be surprising to see this Colts offense lead the league in most major categories when it’s all said and done next year.
The Colts must prove they are not going to have a one dimensional, vertical passing attack every time they take the field. Their lack of a competent running game has been costly for the last few years, but still they’ve been great. Frank Gore will set out to change the tone in Indy, but the Texans should be able to counter with a stingy, deep and talented defense.
The Texans secondary was suspect in the first matchup last season, giving up 370 yards and 3 touchdowns, and 223 yards were receiver T.Y. Hilton’s alone.
They vastly improved in their second bout, surrendering 187 passing yards and only 50 of those to Hilton.
Both of the contests in 2014 were decided by seven points or less.
The Houston Texans’ improvement and subsequent rise was evident prior to last season’s end. They are well positioned to take the AFC South crown and uproot the Colt’s stronghold on the throne.