Season Preview: Houston Texans

Season Preview: Houston Texans
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Sports Mole previews the season ahead for AFC South side the Houston Texans.

The Houston Texans will be looking to take the final step in their quest to become an elite team in the AFC by reaching the Championship game this season.

Gary Kubiak's side have been knocked out of the playoffs in the last two years in the Divisional Round by the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots respectively.

With new reinforcements added to their offense and Ed Reed to their new defense, they could be in line for another run at the Super Bowl.

Sports Mole takes a look at what the season ahead holds for the Texans.

Head Coach: Gary Kubiak

Last season: 12-4

Review: The Texans exploded out of the traps at the start of the 2012 season after defeating the Miami Dolphins comfortably in their opener.

They proved their playoff credentials with a win over the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos in week three and followed that up with a victory over the Tennessee Titans. However they were brought back down to earth by a hammering at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.

A win over the Baltimore Ravens set up a six-game winning streak, leaving Kubiak's side at 11-1 before a visit to the New England Patriots where they heavily defeated 42-12, which derailed the climax of their season leaving them with the third seed and a 12-4 record.

They overcame the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round for the second season running, but their playoff adventure came to an end with defeat to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

Notable ins

Ed Reed: Despite the quality of their defense the one thing lacking in Houston was experience in the secondary, as elite quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady took advantage and racked up the points against the Texans last season. Reed has the nous and ability to make crucial plays that could be vital come playoff time.

DeAndre Hopkins: On the other side of the ball the Texans were crying out for a legitimate threat opposite wide receiver Andre Johnson. So they drafted Hopkins with the 27th pick in the Draft this year. The 21-year-old showed at Clemson he is a handful to deal with, his pace and physical presence can give cornerbacks a tough time. Kubiak and quarterback Matt Schaub will be hopeful he can transfer these skills to the NFL.

Notable Outs

Glover Quin: The 27-year-old was a starter in the Texans secondary last season and for the majority of the campaign played extremely well. However, Kubiak chose to replace him with Reed so Quin chased a starting opportunity elsewhere handed to him by the Detroit Lions.

Connor Barwin: Another starter on the Texans defense who played well for Kubiak's side last season. However, Barwin was chasing the big bucks, which the Texans couldn't quite afford so they allowed him to test free agency where he was snapped up by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Key Player Offense: Arian Foster

Key Player Defense: JJ Watt

Rookie to watch: DeAndre Hopkins

Pre-season form: 3-1

Prediction: 12-4 - Matt Schaub will have to up his game this season otherwise questions will be asked of his starting role. He finally has more than one weapon to throw to at wide receiver with Hopkins along with Johnson, while Foster will continue to rack up yards on the ground with Ben Tate. The defense led by JJ Watt will continue to dominate most teams and they should reach the playoffs quite comfortably given their schedule this season. The big test will come when they play the elite teams in the post-season to see if they can finally reach the big game, which they have the potential to.

Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans looks on against the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Divisional Playoffs game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2013
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