2012 Recap: Houston started the season strong with five straight victories before suffering a loss. The hot play continued after that as they won 11 out of their first 12 games. A cold streak would come at the end of the year as Houston was on the wrong end of three of the last four scores. For the second straight year the team took on Cincinnati in the playoffs and once again bounced them from the wildcard round. New England would end their season a week later, beating them 41-28.
Free Agency Review: Connor Barwin, James Casey and Glover Quin all left for different teams this offseason. Barwin was a two year starter who saw his sack totals dramatically decrease in 2012. The team does have a few reserve linebackers they feel are ready to receive more playing time and hope to offset the loss that way. On the surface replacing fullback/tight end James Casey shouldn't be hard but Gary Kubiak used Casey all over the field as the hybrid position was utilized frequently by the Texans' coach. Ed Reed was brought in from the Ravens to help provide the defense with better safety play but has not been an elite safety the last two years. Reed still will make the highlight reels as a centerfielder catching deep interceptions but his tackling has been questionable lately.
Draft Review: WR DeAndre Hopkins was nabbed in the first round to add some explosion to the Texans' conservative offense. Hopkins is an extremely physical player who has the potential to become one of the draft's best receivers. In the second round the team landed safety DJ Swearinger out of South Carolina. Known as a ferocious hitter in college, the Texans are betting he can be the long term solution at safety - and considering the praise heaped on Swearinger both pre- and post-draft that hope is well-founded. One of Houston's more intriguing picks was DE/LB Sam Montgomery in the third round. Montgomery was extremely productive in college but his lack of explosion may doom him if asked to generate consistent pressure off the edge.
Most Dangerous Player to the Titans: Arian Foster. The Titans' struggles with tackling are well-documented around here and Jerry Gray's woeful defense finished 24th against the run last season. Until Matt Schaub proves himself to be a bigger threat in the pass game, the key to shutting down Houston is on the ground.
Underrated Player: Ben Tate. Foster's backup could be a starter on another team and possesses a good blend of size and speed. If/when Tate gets a shot as a starter he has the capability of putting up solid numbers.
Overrated Player: Ed Reed. An obvious selection here for the reasons mentioned above. Reed is still a good safety but nowhere near worth the hype is signing has received.
2013 Outlook: It is the same story over and over for the Texans. Can Matt Schaub and the receivers elevate the passing game? The team has enough firepower to easily beat up the NFL's weaklings and compete with the top-tier teams. That much has been evident over the past two seasons as the team has put up double-digit victory totals each season. When it comes to elimination games though the team hasn't mustered up the offense needed to take down the AFC's elite. That trend could continue this season.
Predicted Record: 11-5