The National Football League always consists of great parity within all 32 teams. Every year a franchise, whether good scouting or free agent signings, finds a way to rise to the top of the NFL's elite.
In 2008, the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, and the Baltimore Ravens went from the bottom of the league to having success that led them to the playoffs.
The NFL is filled with the sleeper teams, who have decent success but are a piece or two away from becoming with the cream of the crop.
Is there one team that fits this mold in 2009?
I, for one, am thinking about the Houston Texans.
Houston is currently the youngest franchise after joining the league in 2002.
Of course since it was an expansion team, they were going to face a rough start to the franchise, which is what the Texans faced.
With their first draft pick in franchise history, the Texans selected quarterback David Carr.
In his rookie campaign, when the Texans finished 4-12, he was sacked an NFL single-season record 76 times.
The Texans could not find any improvement the first three seasons of existence, especially after the report of the team "tanking" games to receive the No. 1 pick in 2006, which they later did receive after finishing 2-14.
In early 2006, the Texans booted the entire staff of head coach Dom Capers, and introduced Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to run the show.
Speculation of whom the Texans would select began with the heated argument of Reggie Bush or Vince Young.
In a shocking selection, the Houston Texans drafted Mario Williams, a defensive end from N.C. State.
From that moment the reign of Gary Kubiak began, which in result was for the better.
In his first season as head coach, Kubiak led the young Texans squad to an 8-8 record, their best in their short history.
Mario Williams didn't have the great campaign that was hoped for, however, his counterpart DeMarco Ryans won Defensive Rookie Of The Year.
As the aftermath of that 2006 draft is looked back upon, it is obvious Williams has had the better start to his career, already having 30.5 career sacks and making two Pro Bowl appearances, one as a starter.
In 2007, the David Carr era was over after trading for backup quarterback Matt Schaub from the Falcons.
The Texans finished that year with a record of 8-8 once again, still putting a competitive team on the field.
Finally, in the 2008 season, the Texans began showing their mark as a team to be reckoned with in the future. The Houston Texans were one of the more surprising teams in the league.
Even though they finished 8-8, they had crucial wins over the Tennessee Titans and other division foes.
The highlight of their season was Andre Johnson, the Texans' top wide receiver.
Johnson positioned himself as a top five receiver, fighting for the top spot with Larry Fitzgerald.
This past season he set his career highs in receptions (115), yards (1,575), and tied his career high in TDs (8).
Matt Schaub was the reason for Johnson's best season, passing for 3,043 yards and 15 TD passes in another season that he caught the injury bug.
Steve Slaton, the rookie running back out of West Virginia, had a solid rookie season, rushing for 1,282 yards and 9 TDs.
Surely, the Houston Texans are going in the right direction.
They have their quarterback whom they feel is good enough to lead the franchise.
You have the young running back capable of being a Pro Bowler in this league and don't forget, arguably the best wide out in all of football.
What is the next step in the Texans plan to step up a notch and enter the playoffs?
With an offense becoming solidified, and a young defense on the rise, it is going well down in Houston.
The work in the draft included selecting Brian Cushing, the linebacker from USC, in the first round.
The athletic linebacker, who is going to be all over the field, was a great investment there.
The Houston Texans finished with the 22nd overall defense in the league, and frankly no team can make the postseason with those stats.
We must keep in mind that they are one of the younger defenses in the league and are a bit inexperienced.
Nonetheless, they are talented and have the pieces to make a run.
In the future years, the front office will have to make a big splash in the free agent market at some point, as they have been quiet since their inception.
Still, the fan base has developed at the stadium to see this young team play, a team who they hope can replace the ancient Houston Oilers as a team to believe in.
Playing in the NFL comes with fulfilling expectations, and the super stardom that comes along with it.
It will be a challenge, but this franchise is on the rise and is molding into one of the better teams in the league.
They shall compete once more for a playoff spot in 2009.