Key Players: WR Andre Johnson, RB Arian Foster, QB Matt Schaub, DE Mario Williams, CB Jonathan Joseph
2010 Issues: Stopping the pass. In 2010, the Texans ranked dead-last in pass yards allowed per game with 267.5. They were also in the bottom tier for sacks with 30. They also tied the Cowboys for the most receiving touchdowns allowed—33. Offensive production was no issue.
Improvements: The Texans went out and got Jonathan Joseph, an excellent cornerback from the Bengals. They also drafted cornerback Brandon Harris out of the University of Miami to help with the problem.
JJ Watt was drafted to join forces with Mario Williams on the d-line, creating a solid foundation. The offense has pretty much stayed the same, and it's still excellent. Schaub, Foster, and Johnson are some of the NFL's elite, so the Texans should have no problem putting up points. They also went out and grabbed Wade Phillips to coordinate the defense.
Key Games: Colts (Weeks 1 and 16), Saints (Week 3), Steelers (Week 4), Ravens (Week 6), Bucs (Week 10), Falcons (Week 13)
Why They Can Make the Playoffs: The Texans and Colts are the best in the South. With Peyton Manning coming off neck surgery, he may miss part of training camp, potentially weakening the Colts.
The beginning of the season is key for the Texans—that's when they have their toughest games. With a much more solid defensive team than last year, and a great offense, the Texans can pull ahead of the Colts and win the AFC South.
Despite their major defensive struggles, Arian Foster led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, Matt Schaub ranked fourth among QBs in passing yards with 4,370, and Andre Johnson was good for another 1,000-yard receiving season. They look promising.