5 Reasons the Houston Texans Will Make the NFL Playoffs

Charlie CraigleContributor IAugust 16, 2011

5 Reasons the Houston Texans Will Make the NFL Playoffs

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    In their 10-year history, the Houston Texans have yet to make the playoffs, but this year is shaping up to be different.

    After watching their preseason opener tonight, you could feel the difference in this season's team. They had a new swagger about them as they entered Reliant Stadium.

    Five things stuck out in my mind that make this year's team a playoff contender.

J.J. Watt Is the Real Deal

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    I wasn't sure J.J. Watt would be an immediate impact player for the Texans, but he made it very clear tonight that I was wrong. In limited action, Watt nearly had a sack, an interception and a tackle for a loss in his only defensive series.

    Watt appears to be primed to build on his outstanding college career, with the potential to win the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.

Houston's Offensive Line Is in Great Shape

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    Heading into tonight's game, the Texans were already without Arian Foster, Steve Slaton and Ben Tate. Early in the game, Derrick Ward went down, leaving only rookie Chris Ogbonnaya. Houston's front five made Ogbonnaya look like an All-Pro.

    Ogbonnaya had a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown thanks to the stellar blocking of the offensive line, which is good news if the Texans can't keep their backs healthy.

Wade Phillips Has the Defense Firing on All Cylinders

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    Wade Phillips has put together a unit that is very similar to the one he built down the road in Dallas, especially the role he has carved for All-Pro defensive end turned linebacker Mario Williams.

    The blitz packages were causing the Jets headaches all night, and the secondary looked leaps-and-bounds better than last year.

    The only cause for concern after the first game is how fast Williams can get used to standing up at the line instead of putting his hand on the ground. At first glance, Williams appeared to be out of place on a couple of plays, but after reviewing the plays, Williams was in great position for his assignment.

    The question will be how fast he can adapt to these situations to not only cover his position, but wreak havoc all over the field. Stay tuned.

Young Players Providing Immediate Impact

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    J.J. Watt isn't the only young Texan that will contribute this season.

    Second-round pick Brooks Reed looked good coming off the edge tonight and will contribute a lot on passing downs, and will eventually take over as a full-time starter at outside linebacker.

    Bryan Braman caused the Jets' Greg McElroy problems throughout the second half tonight. He will provide depth along the defensive line and have an impact on special teams units.

    Brandon Harris looked good in coverage. Compared to the secondary's performance last season, Harris would appear to push for a starting position immediately, but will most likely contribute in nickel packages and special teams.

Plenty of Depth at Key Positions

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    Due to minor injuries in camp and coaches erring on the side of caution, a lot of backups played more snaps than usual tonight, even for a preseason game.

    Chris Ogbonnaya has already been mentioned, but if he is kept on the roster, he would provide a nice contingency plan if injuries continue to plague the Texans' backfield.

    After only one preseason game, Matt Leinhart has shown that he has matured as a quarterback. He no longer looks lost in the pocket and he made great decisions with the football (for the most part).

    Xavier Adibi showed that he is more than capable of filling in for injured linebacker Brian Cushing.