After a strong 2008 campaign, the Houston Texans are looking to build on an 8-8 season that was filled with highs and lows.
Second-year starter Steve Slaton will be the key to the Texans' offense after exploding for a Texan record 1,282 rushing yards in his first season.
Andre Johnson will continue to produce at the wide receiver position after a breakout season totaling 115 receptions and 1,575 receiving yards, both first in the league.
The keys to the Texans getting better lay within the hands of quarterback Matt Schaub and the stout Texan defense.
Schaub will need to put together a full season of health if he has any hopes of taking the Texans to the playoffs. The fifth-year quarterback from the University of Virginia started in only 11 games last year due to multiple injuries that kept him sidelined.
Although the departure of Sage Rosenfels might make some Texans fans happy, especially after his collapse at home against the Colts last season, it could spell trouble if Schaub is unable to stay on the field.
The Texans' defense got a little faster by adding Brian Cushing, the lightning-quick linebacker out of USC. The defense made great strides last year, with Mario Williams showing that he and linebacker DeMeco Ryans can lead the "D" to shutting down opponents in the running game.
Williams, in his third season, recorded a team-high 12 sacks and is proving worthy of his No. 1 selection in the 2006 draft. If defensive back Daunta Robinson is able to stay healthy for the season, and Amobi Okoye continues to get better, the Texans' defense could be scary.
With the favorable schedule the Texans have, I can definitely see them in the playoffs at 10-6 at the end of next season. To do so, however, they will need to stay healthy and continue off of the strides they made at the end of the 2008 season.
Whether or not they can do this remains to be seen.