(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Last season: 8-8 and third AFC South
GOOD THING GOING: There is actually a lot of good coming out of Houston.
A pro bowl receiver, solid QB, stout defensive players, and an electrifying running back.
Steve Slaton (photo) proved that he's not too small for NFL standards after rushing for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns. He was one of the steals of the 2008 NFL Draft after falling to the third round.
Matt Schaub played just 11 games but still threw for 3,043 yards—his first career 3,000 yard season.
Andre Johnson continues to show people he's one of the best receivers in the game after a monstrous 2008. Johnson caught 115 passes and 1,575 receiving yards along with eight touchdowns.
Maybe the Texans were right about getting Mario Williams over Vince Young, Reggie Bush, and Matt Leinert.
Williams has played all 16 games each season and has 30.5 sacks. He and leading tackler DeMeco Ryans lead this young defense.
PRESENTABLE PROBLEMS: Though Schaub hasn't really disappointed too many people at quarterback, he hasn't been healthy either.
Schaub has played no more than 11 games in his tenure with the Texans. Not having Sage Rosenfels to back him up will be crucial for the Texans to keep Schaub healthy.
He also needs to cut down on losing the ball. Schaub fumbled 10 times last season and lost four of them to the defense.
Another pass rusher opposite of Mario Williams might also help. Tim Bulman finished second on the team with just four sacks.
CRUCIAL GAME(S): After the bye week, the Texans host the AFC South champion Titans on Monday Night Football.
Then it's Indianapolis at home and a road trip to Jacksonville.
These games will determine if the Texans can make a run at the division.
WHAT TO BELIEVE IN 2009: The Texans are on their way up and improving each year under coach Gary Kubiak.
Unless something catastrophic happens, it's only a matter of time before Houston starts becoming a playoff contender.
THE PICK FOR '09: 9-7