The Houston Texans have been the poster child for NFL futility since their formation in 2002.Â However, several analysts are picking them to be one of the break out teams of 2010.Â Here are my top 10 reasons the Texans will finally break out and make the playoffs in 2010.
1.Â Failure is in the past
With the release of the last original Texan – kicker Kris Brown – the Texans shed the last remnant of their initial years of futility.Â Brown’s multiple blown late-game field goals last season were reminders of the team the Texans once were and his departure is symbolic of a team turning a new leaf.
2.Â Arian Foster will break the Texan running back curse
The Texans have not had a consistently productive running back in their eight-year history.Â The team has frequently relied on veterans who were unproductive and past their prime, like Ahman Green and Ron Dayne, or seen breakout seasons followed by injury (Domanic Davis) or an acute case of fumble-itis (Steve Slaton).Â After winning the starting job late in 2009, Foster opened the 2010 season with a Texans team-record 231 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns â€“ his first step in breaking the curse.
3.Â Mario Williams will continue to prove why he was picked #1
Texans fans booed when Williams was selected first overall in the 2006 NFL Draft.Â Owner Bob McNair said the Texans passed on Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and hometown hero Vince Young to improve their defense and slow down division-rival Peyton Manning.Â Young and Bush have had wildly inconsistent NFL careers while Williams has steadily improved with each season and is one of the most feared pass-rushers in the league, leading the team to an opening week victory over Manning and the Colts.
4.Â Brian Cushing wants redemption
The Texans will play the first four games of 2010 without reigning defensive rookie of the year, Brian Cushing, who was suspended after testing positive for a banned substance.Â While Cushing is adamant the substance was medical and not performance-enhancing, he will be forever linked to the scandal and will return hungry to prove he deserves the accolades he received his rookie year.
5.Â Matt Shaub has the best targets in the league
Nothing against Matt Shaub, who led the NFL in passing in 2009, but I think I could complete a pass or two to Andre Johnson.Â The 6’3” receiver led the league in receiving the previous two seasons and trucks defensive backs like a full back.Â He, along with the most gifted core of receivers in the league, including popular fantasy football sleeper pick Jacoby Jones, will routinely dissect defenses and rack up points.
6.Â Owen Daniels is healthy
Owen Daniels was the best tight end in the league before his season-ending knee injury.Â Look for Matt Shaub’s favorite short-yard target to pick up where he left off.
7.Â No one is watching Kevin Walter
Kevin Walter has been a viable second receiver for his tenure in Houston, but Andre Johnson often overshadows him.Â Now with defenses also worrying about Jacoby Jones, Owen Daniels and Arian Foster, Walter will take advantage of being taken for granted, as evidenced by his week 1 touchdown catch.
8.Â The whole city is behind them
Houston has not had football pride like it does now since banners saying â€œLuv Ya Blueâ€ hung from the Astrodome rafters and Warren Moon led the Oilers to multiple playoff births.Â Now, with NFL playoffs a possibility again, Houston is hungry and a town that was once sprinkled with baby blue is covered in navy and red.
9.Â They’re no longer up and coming
The Texans have been football analysts’ sexy sleeper pick for multiple seasons now.Â The team is no longer young and in transition, but stocked full of veteran playmakers who need to live up to their hype now or be forever deemed failures.
10.Â They beat the Colts.
The week 1 victory against Indianapolis (only the second in team history) will go far in building the Texans’ confidence and signaling that the Colts’ reign atop the NFC South may soon come to an end.