Even though we have found ourselves in the middle of many NFL stories that have had a negative connotation to it, whether related to the referees or not, there is one team out there that has simply gone about their business in the most methodical manner without complaining about any aspect to the game.
The Houston Texans are currently the best team in the NFL. Sorry Atlanta. This team has strung together a 4-0 start that doesn’t just show off four wins but four dominate wins. Not only can this be represented statistically by the fact that they have the largest margin of victory in the league (17.5) since they rank second in points per game and first in points given up, but also by the way that they go about playing the game.
When you watch this offense go to work, the balance of Matt Schaub’s underrated decision-making to go along with Andre Johnson’s flawless skills and Arian Foster’s pure athleticism never allows the opposing defenses to force them into playing a certain way. While the most recent prolific offenses (Green Bay, New Orleans, Detroit) have played pass-heavy with the hope that they can throw their way to victory, head coach Gary Kubiak has clearly shown he will have none of that. He has established an offense ready to attack in whatever way the defense allows them to, which has Schaub off to the most efficient start (105.3 passer rating) of his career.
The defense has played just as much of a factor in the Texans’ commanding start to the season. Even though Wade Phillips turned out to be a complete fiasco as a head coach for the Dallas Cowboys will a lack of pretty much every quality you want in head coach, he has settled back into the place where he excels as defensive coordinator. Coming in three years ago, Houston had two defensive backs in Kareem Jackson and Glover Quin that were considered to anything short of abysmal. All Phillips has done is get the absolute most out of them – which is a lot – and bring in Danieal Manning and Johnathan Joseph by request. This core gives up only 182.8 yards per game, ranking them second in the league. Phillips has done wonders for this defense in the past few years, but he must give a big thank you to J.J. Watt for the success so far this season. This man may not have Clay Matthews’s hair but he certainly has the same amount of intimidation. The second-year Texan has exploded onto the scene with 7.5 sacks, which included two big ones in Sunday’s 38-14 victory over the Titans. If he keeps up this level of play through 16 games, he will be a favorite for defensive player of the year. (It should also be noted that the departure of Pro-Bowl Defensive End Mario Williams has had little effect on the defense, proving the strength of the entire team’s defense.)
Since this team finally made it into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history with their first double-digit win season a year ago, they took the necessary first step all elite organizations must take. No matter how hot a team may be in the regular season, playing in the postseason – and winning at that – is invaluable in becoming a regularly dominant force in any professional sports league. The Texans now have that.
More than any statistic that can be calculated to show their success, this team has an attitude that can only be described as “winning.” The way this team lacks any sort of drama on or off the field, the way this team handles the press, the way this team seems to be on a distinct mission. They possess all the qualities that every coach dreams of. It is as if they are attempting to become the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL; that is a huge compliment.
Let me repeat: this is the best team in the NFL. There have obviously been teams in the past that have been the clear-cut No. 1 team in the league, but in the past decade, we have never seen the No. 1 team be so dominate on both sides of the ball. Packers? Not a chance. Patriots? Nuh-uh. Saints? No. Colts? Nope. This team will be able to make a lot of noise once the end of the season comes to a close and the playoffs are just around the corner. Even if Schaub has difficulty hearing this noise, the rest of the league will certainly be able to hear it.
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