Title-bound Texans?

JJ Watt and the Texans defense has Houston thinking Super Bowl. (Photo credit Scott Halleran/Getty)

As the Denver Broncos raised the Lombardi Trophy last February, they laid out the blueprint to win a Super Bowl with mediocre at best quarterback play. All you need is a team with a historically dominant defense and a strong running game. While this type of team is fairly uncommon, it is exactly what the Texans are trying to build (only two teams in the past 30 years can legitimately claim they won the Super Bowl despite mediocre quarterback play, the Broncos last season, the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl 35).

This past offseason the Texans signed free agent Brock Osweiler to improve their quarterback play. However they don’t need him to do much, they simply need him to not lose games all by himself. It’s pretty simple, as long as Osweiler provides league average quarterback play, the Texans should expect to be in position to win the majority of their games.

However, all of this is predicated on the defense performing up to their sky-high expectations. Last season, the Texans finished with the third ranked defense in the NFL behind only the Seattle Seahawks and the Broncos. But that’s not all, they managed that after a 2–5 start to the season which saw their defense get consistently shredded as they gave up more than 40 points twice. After that awful start, the team went 7–2 to finish the season thanks in large part to a tremendously improved defense. Over that nine game stretch the Texans held their opponents under 10 points five times, including an incredible game against the then top seed Cincinnati Bengals (had to hyperlink the video because the NFL stands for No Fun League and they don’t let you embed videos from their YouTube channel).

Since the Texans are returning all their starters on defense, it is only natural to expect that they continue their improvement from last season. Especially when you consider that they have a multitude of young players who should improve their play from last year. Through two games, this seems to be the case. Young players like Jadeveon Clowney, Benardrick McKinney and Kevin Johnson are clearly better than they were last year and the team defense has improved as a result. The Texans rank third in total defense and scoring defense, fifth in forced turnovers and first in sacks. All of that adds up to a championship-caliber defense, especially when compared to the Broncos defense last season and the Ravens defense in 2000 when they won the Super Bowl.

In addition to their fantastic defense, the Texans have gotten some lucky breaks in their schedule. Namely, facing the New England Patriots during the first four games of the season when Tom Brady is still suspended. If the Texans are competing for the top seed in the AFC, that game could be crucial in deciding the tiebreaker for which team wins the conference. Add in the fact that the Texans play in the easiest division in the NFL and they could conceivably be 13–3 at the end of the regular season. This record should be enough for the Texans to earn the top seed in the AFC and home field advantage throughout the playoff. Not to mention if they made it through the gauntlet that is the NFL playoffs they would be the first team to ever have true home field advantage in the Super Bowl.

Combine this defense with the favorable breaks the Texans received in their schedule and it is completely understandable why some Houston fans think this is finally their year.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Absolutely!!!!!!!! <a href=”https://t.co/shkQoQ6U4G">https://t.co/shkQoQ6U4G</a></p>&mdash; Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) <a href=”https://twitter.com/patbev21/status/768299106489896960">August 24, 2016</a></blockquote>
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