wadefrogvia

Last year: 12-4, AFC South champs, lost in divisional round

Acquisitions: Ed Reed, DeAndre Hopkins, D.J. Swearinger, Shane Lechler

Departures: Connor Barwin, Glover Quin, Kevin Walter, Shayne Graham, T.J. Yates

Vegas win total over/under: 10 1/2 wins

Verdict: OVER

reed

Five things Ed Reed encountered riding the rails to Houston:

- The devil soulfully strumming a guitar.

- A chipmunk with a woman’s face.

- A flaming dumpster that lies to you about lottery numbers you should play.

- Eddie Money

- A gypsy woman who stole his voice.

Fan forecast, by SB Nation’s Luke Zimmerman:

I watched almost a decade of Houston Texans football with the payoff being more or less the same thing every year – except for that time they tanked in remarkable fashion and then couldn’t even pick the right guy (which in hindsight I guess they did? Even though he left for an easy pay day when he finally was fulfilling some of that pedigree?)

Forget about all that, though. The Houston Texans were/are kind of, sort of front runners in the AFC South. And what that basically means is that they get to beat an inferior Cincinnati Bengals team in the wild card round and then lose to a conference heavyweight in the divisional playoffs every year.

This is a new kind of purgatory, and one where some of those same “Fire…someone?” sentiments start to creep to the surface once again out of old habit. And there was also this weird losers’ Stockholm Syndrome I realized I was living when for the first time as a fan of the franchise last year, I found watching some of the “easy” wins less fulfilling than, oh, say, beating a Colts team you shouldn’t that one time or eking out a win against a playoff team you had no business being competitive with. But after a decade of suboptimal-to-soul crushing football, that’s not an unreasonable cross to bear.

The Texans’ window is closing – and perhaps somewhat quickly – and as fans I think it’s probably starting to become apparent that it’s now or never…-ish. Is the ceiling a trip to the conference championship? Losing a Super Bowl? I’m not sure I pretend to know, but I do know that Andre Johnson probably won’t be Andre Johnson the way we’re accustomed to for an awful lot longer. Assuming Brian Cushing stays healthy and Ed Reed is able to walk again, the defense very well could be good enough to hang with some of the league’s best.

But what about the offensive line? For all Arian Foster’s issues (will his back hold up for a half, much less a whole season?), the first unit’s looked iffy from a run blocking perspective during the first preseason games. And say what you will, if the Texans are forced to play a first- or second-year player on a line expected to block for an AFC title contending offense, well… They probably aren’t going to have a real good time.

But say the Texans’ metamorphosize into a pass-to-run instead of a run-to-pass type offensive attack. The pass pro’s seemed solid enough, and well, Matt Schaub might somehow have slightly underachieved his way to being dare I say underrated? Maybe this team can in fact somehow do one of those things we’ve all deluded ourselves into believing they were capable of after watching tens of losses for so many years.

Or maybe it’s all just another battle red herring. And maybe Kevin Sumlin will want to dip his wick in the pro ranks two years from now.

At least Texans fans everywhere have J.J. Watt to keep our delusions of grandeur feeling tangible.