2009 NFL Football Picks Preview: Houston Texans

Vernon CroyCorrespondent IAugust 3, 2009

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 26:  A Texans banner waves as it is carried across the field during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans on October 26, 2008 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The 2008 Houston Texans had a roller coaster of a season. They started out slowly and then rebounded to have a decent year. They missed the playoffs, but they made the long climb to respectability.

They had a great offense and the defense was a little questionable. The off-season was spent trying to shore up the defense and they believe that they've done enough to be contenders in the AFC South this year. If you're looking for NFL preseason football picks , expect the Texans to be one of the three best teams in the division this year.

The Good News: The best news is what the Texans bring back from last year. They already had a pretty strong nucleus last year, but injuries to Matt Schaub hurt the team early in the year. They have a solid, accurate quarterback in Schaub if they can keep him healthy.

They also have one of the top five receivers in the league in Andre Johnson. Last year, he made fantasy football owners extremely happy with the stats that he put up. They also managed to find a great rookie running back last year in Steve Slaton.

Slaton didn't start out as the "go-to-guy" but emerged as that later in the season. With a year under his belt, he should be even better this year. They also added some good defensive talent in Antonio Smith and Shaun Cody in free agency. They drafted a potential stud linebacker in Brian Cushing as well. They hope that these additions can help the defense catch up with the offense.

The Bad News: Other than "The Big Three", the Texans need someone else to step up on offense. They need some more help to keep their big guns from being double teamed all the time. Can Walters step up and make some catches to help out the offense? Will anyone be able to give Slaton a breather from time to time?

The defense is still a big question mark at this point. While they added some nice names in the off-season, no one knows exactly how it will work out until they play together in some games. They can look great in training camp, but until it happens for real, there's no reason to get excited. They do have Mario Williams at defensive end, but besides him, they need to generate a pass rush. They also need some consistency at linebacker if they're going to make the jump to a playoff team in 2009.

Outlook: As far as free NFL betting picks go, expect the Texans to be a winning team this season. They will probably battle for a Wild Card berth in the playoffs. They're not ready to unseat the Colts as the perennial division No. 1, but they will battle with the Titans to be the second team from the division into the playoffs. Again, the big questions are on defense. Can they find some defensive leaders to step up and make some plays? If so, they could be a force to be reckoned with this season.

Make sure you check out Vernon Croy's Expert NFL Picks this season.