With their 31-25 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the Houston Texans not only accomplished yet another franchise first by advancing to 3-0, but they also now stand alone as the last remaining undefeated team in the AFC.
The Texans dominated much of Sunday's contest before allowing back-to-back touchdown passes to Denver quarterback Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter, but the team found a way to weather the storm and escape the Mile High City with a victory. Head coach Gary Kubiak told Dale Robertson of The Houston Chronicle, “We had the character to find a way to finish the game and get out of here with a win.”
As the AFC's last team with an unblemished record, it's certainly safe to say that the Texans can lay claim to the title of best team in the AFC, but after coming out on top in their first real test of the season, can one take things a step further and state the Texans are the best team in the National Football League?
I say yes, for a few reasons.
First off, there's not a more balanced team offensively in the NFL than the Houston Texans. Sure, the Texans may have (rightfully) gained a reputation as a smash-mouth team that pounds away with the talented tandem of Ben Tate and Arian Foster at running back.
However, the Texans are also more than capable of hurting teams through the air.
If you don't believe that, ask the Denver Broncos, who watched quarterback Matt Schaub burn them for long scoring strikes to wideouts Andre Johnson (60 yards) and Kevin Walter (52) en route to four touchdown passes Sunday.
Then there's the matter of Houston's punishing defense.
The transformation of the Texans defense under coordinator Wade Phillips has been nothing short of remarkable. Only two seasons ago, this was one of the league's worst defenses. Now, it's one of the best.
A large part of that may be due to the emergence of defensive end J.J. Watt, who is an absolute monster. Watt tallied 2.5 sacks on Sunday, so through three games, he's made 15 tackles, racked up 5.5 sacks and given three separate signal-callers post-traumatic stress disorder.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, to this point in the season the Texans haven't beaten themselves. Turnovers are the kiss of death in the National Football League, and not only was Matt Schaub's interception against Denver his first of the season, but it was Houston's first giveaway—period.
Granted, the Houston Texans play in one of the NFL's weakest divisions, and Week 3's game was just their first matchup against an opponent with any sort of realistic postseason aspirations.
However, the Texans passed that test with flying colors, and after the San Francisco 49ers face-planted in Minneapolis in Week 3, the title of "team to beat" in the NFL in 2012 has been passed to the Houston Texans.