The Houston Texans looked like a probable participant in the AFC Championship Game when they arrived at the month of December last season. Can they finish the job this time around? They’re among the football betting favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Best Offseason Move:
The Texans know that quarterback Matt Schaub lost the mustard on his fastball in December, when an 11-1 team crumbled and lost hold of a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. Schaub is a point of concern this season, so the Texans need to give him all the help they can possibly provide. The team stuck up for Schaub – and boosted its perimeter playmaking in the process – by plucking DeAndre “Nuke” Hopkins from Clemson in the NFL draft. Hopkins was an explosive and lethal force for Clemson last season. He made a lot of tough catches over the middle, but he was also devastatingly quick on the edges and made defenders in the Atlantic Coast Conference look plainly silly. In the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against a physical Southeastern Conference defense from Louisiana State, Hopkins held up under pressure and withstood ferocious hits from the Tigers’ secondary. He showed that he was a next-level talent, and now that he’s on the Texans’ roster, he should be able to thrive opposite receiver Andre Johnson. The Texans now have two big-league threats in their receiving corps, not just one. This was a deft and astute move by management to stretch opposing secondaries and give Schaub even more options when he scans the field. This could be the move that makes the difference between a third seed in the AFC and a second seed, which would bring about that first-round bye the team missed in 2012.
Worst Offseason Move:
The Texans really overreached – they really hoped and prayed, to be honest – with their acquisition of safety Ed Reed from the Baltimore Ravens. Reed is still a great team leader, and frankly, he would make a great position coach in the NFL. He could certainly teach the nuances of secondary play to young up-and-comers. However, his days as a particularly effective safety are just about over. There are so many miles on Reed’s tires, and after winning the Super Bowl with the Ravens – despite the fact that Baltimore’s pass defense was shredded in the second half by the San Francisco 49ers – Reed’s tank is just about empty. It’s hard to see how he’s going to be able to come back and deliver anything close to a first-rate performance, anything close to the standard he set for so many years in Baltimore. This was a desperate move by the Texans, and a much healthier safety was not signed as a result.
How They’ll Finish In The Division:
The Texans should still make the playoffs. They’re definitely good enough to do that. However, Schaub’s decline at quarterback was so pronounced and precipitous last December that it’s going to cast a long shadow over his psyche and the team itself this season and affect their Super Bowl odds. Houston just doesn’t seem ready to handle the disillusionment that last season’s late collapse created. This team will lose the AFC South to Indianapolis by one game.
Super Bowl Odds: +685