The 6-3 Houston Texans are at the top of the AFC South, and with the acquisition of Demaryius Thomas and a little luck, they just might become Super Bowl contenders… or at least a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. With a six-game winning streak following their game against the Broncos in Week 9, some fans might say we’re getting our hopes up… but are we?
We’re not alone in thinking the Texans might have a legitimate shot. Even the experts are calling them the hottest team in football right now. So yeah, we’re jumping on that bandwagon.
After their 0-3 start this year, the Texans have one of the most improved offenses in the league, a solid quarterback, a strong defense, and they just added a new wide receiver to the equation. These are just a few reasons the Houston Texans are looking prettttty promising as of late.
About their Quarterback
Despite his smaller build, quarterback Deshaun Watson is versatile and throws the ball deep. He scored five touchdowns in their Week 8 game against the Dolphins, and if he can stay healthy, he can continue to lead the team on their winning streak.
The only problem? Watson gets sacked a lot – he’s hit more than any other quarterback in the league. We’re talking 25 sacks and 65 hits in the first six games of the season. The O-line is something to worry about because Watson doesn’t need to keep getting knocked around. After all, he’s already recovered from a bruised lung and cracked ribs this season due to a painful chest injury. (Oh, and he played through.) But he’s also pretty good at running the ball so the Texans don’t want to stop him from doing that.
During the past two weeks, however, things have been looking up. Watson had zero sacks, just one hit, and five touchdown throws against the Dolphins. And he was only sacked once in Week 7 against the Jags. (Too bad his sack-less streak ended against the Broncos yesterday.) Still, Watson didn’t throw any interceptions during his past three games. Has the O-line improved? ‘Cause it’s looking like it…
To help matters, the Texans’ offensive coordinator has switched from a pass-heavy offense to one with more play-action passing and heavy rushing, giving the offensive-lineman a little more focus.
As for Watson, he’s still young. He’s only had 18 NFL appearances so he’s still figuring out how to navigate the playbook, learn his way around the offense, and sort out play-calling changes. He’s only 23 years old, and unlike star QB Patrick Mahomes, the Texans didn’t have the luxury of letting Watson sit on the bench and study up. They opted for trial by fire.
But none of that seems to matter now, because Watson has progressed tremendously as a quarterback and the offensive line is starting to work better as a unit.
Adding Demaryius Thomas to the mix
Just before the NFL trade deadline last week, the Texans snagged wide receiver Demaryius Thomas from the Broncos. He has a tremendous catch radius and he doesn’t have to look open to be open. They needed him due to the loss of Will Fuller to an ACL injury against the Dolphins… but many think they should’ve opted for a new offensive lineman instead.
Thomas, however, should add depth and, in a more subtle way, help with the protection of Watson by getting open quickly. Nine-year veteran Thomas has won a Super Bowl and provides the experience and skill set the Texans were looking for. Over his career, he’s got five seasons with over 1,000-plus receiving yards. More than anything though, this trade deal shows the Texans are serious about winning.
He’s got plenty of guys around to help score too. DeAndre Hopkins is also a top-five NFL wide receiver. Keke Coutee is a standout as well, though he’s got a nagging hamstring injury that means he’s been limited in practice and games lately, which only makes the addition of Thomas more timely. Rookie running back Phillip Lindsay is also fast and hard to tackle.
The Texans defense is dominant
The Texans rank ninth in total defense and they’re seventh against the run, allowing an average of 95.1 yards per game. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are talked-about football studs who take the Texans to the next level. They destroy quarterbacks and you can tell by their stats. After Week 8, Watt ranked second in sacks with 8 this season, 10 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, and 4 forced fumbles. Clowney has 4.5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hits And you can tack on a little extra to those numbers after their game against the Broncos. Simply merciless.
Defensive back Kareem Jackson is on track to have his best season yet. As a key playmaker and nine-year veteran, he started the season at strong safety, but injuries and age pushed him into the cornerback position, one that he’s familiar with because that’s where he started his career. Jackson has already racked up 47 tackles and two interceptions after Week 8.
Against the Broncos
Perfect timing for Thomas. The weekend after getting traded by the only NFL team he’s ever played for, the Denver Broncos, Thomas had to face his old teammates on the field. In a true test of what the Texans are capable of, Houston also faced their old quarterback Case Keenum. Sure, Denver doesn’t have a winning record, but they can beat down O-lines like it’s their job.
The Texans were able to pull this one out in a close 19-17 win, managing a field goal in the fourth quarter to snag the W.
The question is… can they keep up this momentum they’ve built?