The Texans schedule for 2012 looks a bit tougher than that of 2011 but not by much. I can see a similar, if not better overall win ratio over the 2011 season even with the loss of high profile and well respected players. I still believe that the Texans old nemesis, Colts, are not going to be the same team without Manning at the helm. Without seeing exactly what the draft will produce the Texans, anything said here is subject to change once all is said and done. Let's first look at divisional rivals.
Well, Andrew Luck sure does have a growing fan base. Though I cannot see the colts being much worse than they were in the 2011 season, I can't see them being an automatic playoff team based on a single rookie QB addition. Don't get em wrong, Luck is looks to be a great QB for the future of any team he may end up playing for but I see too many people hatching his eggs before they hatch. As a young guy playing his first year in the NFL, Luck will have his hands full keeping the Bulls On Parade off his tail in the backfield. He's going to have a very heavy cram session on how to work the pocket under NFL defenses. Rookie QBs are often the target of any pro defense.
I still feel that Tennessee will be the Texans division rival to beat for the foreseeable future. Chris Johnson did come off his best season in 2011 and might have a chip on his shoulder going into 2012. Matt Hasselbeck is not someone to sneeze at, either. With a fair defensive showing, the Titans could give the Texans a tough time but I can't see Titans shutting down the Texans. Confidence is still high against, what looks to be, the strongest foe in the division.
What can I say about Jacksonville? MJD is a beast but what else do they have to offer? Gabbert wasn't exactly the most confident QB the Texans faced in 2011. With the Texans defense expecting to be even more potent in the pass rush for 2012, I'm not seeing much concern when facing the glitter kitties but then, a championship level team cannot afford to not show respect for any team they go up against. I don't expect much resistance from JAX but the Texans still need to go full force both at home and on the road against these guys.
Let clump the AFC East together. The Dolphins didn't really show their "A" game in 2011 and I honestly do not see much chance for notable improvement in 2012. The Bills just got a great defensive boost with Mario Williams but overall, I have to give that match-up to the Texans. The Jets do not impress me. Sanchez, in my humble opinion, needs to find a team better suited for his skill set. I truly do not think he likes the scheme they run there and it's shown in his reduced productivity in 2011. Tebow isn't really going to much of a threat in the air but in the potential wildcat formations, he could bring some life to this Jets offense. The real threat against this division would be the Brady bunch. I can see a high scoring game simply due to the efficiency of each offense but when it comes down to brass tacks, the Texans defense should help prevail but I cannot lie, this is a toss up that I can't feel comfortable calling until the game is underway.
Between Denver and Baltimore, it's anyone's call on these match-ups. Going to Denver with the thin air and facing Manning, who knows this Texans team as well as any opposing QB can, this will be a knock down drag out fight to the finish. The same type of game should be expected against Baltimore at home. I can see the defenses being close to equals as long as Reed stays healthy. I see the possibility of Houston winning their first game against the Ravens in 2012, though it's going to be a/the game to watch.
The NFC challenges should be interesting. Who doesn't want to see a couple good defensive show downs? Let's see who is more terrifying, Brian Urlacher or Brian Cushing. Both these guys can be described as holy terrors on the field so, yeah, let's see how that game turns out. The running game between the teams in the Texans/Bears match-up will also make this a heated game. Or, should I call it an all out brawl?
Let's take a look at the battle of the hair game against the NFC, too. Between Mathews and Reed, we'll all be wondering if the same guy just changes uniforms with the flowing blonde locks flowing in the wind (Though, Connor has the best hair, hands down). In all seriousness, though, we are going to see a street fight in this game with both teams having highly efficient offenses. With all due respect for Mathews, I have to give the overall defensive power to the Texans.
I see the Vikings home game going well for Houston. Yes, Minnesota does have a pretty solid offensive line but they will need to be on top of their game coming into Reliant Stadium. The home crowd gives the Texans the edge in this game.
Detroit, I think, is gonna get ugly. Going into the Lions Den cannot be pretty. Detroit showed promise in the 2011 season and there is no reason to think they will just roll over and play dead in 2012. The passing game will probably be as strong or stronger and the Lions have become a very physical team. I see this game having a lot of penalty calls as the Texans are also very physical and tempers may fly. If the Texans keep their cool, that might be their best bet to keep things in their favor. If Detroit can be allowed to penalize themselves into submission, they could help defeat themselves.