#4 Seed- Houston Texans
The Story- In what may be considered the “best of a bad division”, the Houston Texans found some 2nd half
momentum after starting the season 2-5 to finish with a respectable 9-7 record and hosting a playoff game this weekend. Quite frankly, their matchup with the Chiefs this weekend is fascinating from a personnel standpoint. Although KC is riding high on a 10 game winning streak, the similarities between these two teams are striking.
-Both have very respectable coaching staffs
-Both have experienced veteran QB’s
-Both lost their star running backs early in the season
-Both have one go to receiver that makes the majority of their plays
-Both have very underrated defenses
-Both had strong 2nd half records to propel them into the playoffs
And the list could go on, but that gives you an idea of the similarities. You have to give credit to Bill O’Brien for making the most of their opportunities and getting the most out of his players, despite the lack of talent at certain positions. Regardless of the strength of the division, the Texans have been a competitive opponent for most of the season and can’t be overlooked. Let’s take a look at their strengths and weaknesses.
#3 in total defense (3rd in pass defense, 10th in rush defense)
Pro Bowl talent in DeAndre Hopkins (3rd in receiving yards)
Efficient QB play with Brian Hoyer (19/7 TD:INT ratio)
Good and experienced coaching staff led by Bill O’Brien
Lack of talent at skill positions
Ties into the first weakness, but lack of explosive players outside of Hopkins
Have not been able to consistently run the ball
Offensive line protection is in question with LT Duane Brown out for the season
Conclusion- This team won’t scare anyone with the talent they have on paper, but they have the necessary ingredients on both sides of the football and on the sidelines to compete with any team in the AFC playoffs. With the variety of issues surrounding the different teams in the AFC, Houston proved that it has enough grit and coaching ability to overcome some of their deficiencies by rallying late in the season to win the AFC South. Those same qualities that won them their division will only help them as they try to navigate through the AFC playoffs.
Would I like to see them play the Broncos in the Divisional Round? Absolutely. Would I think that’s an easy win? Not necessarily. Between the three possible teams we could play though, they would be my choice for the Divisional Round Opponent.