1) Amazing Run Game: Simply put, the Texans’ run game is out of this world this season. While some teams have one running back who’s having a hell of a season, (such as the Eagles and the Bills), Houston has two. Both their running backs rank in the top of the league for rushing yards on the season, with Arian Foster ranking 10th (740 yards) and Ben Tate ranking 11th (686 yards). They rank second in the league for rushing yards behind the Eagles, who have the advantage of a Quarterback who ranks 24th in the league in rushing yards at a crazy rate of 8.4 yards per rush attempt. With the Texans, teams know they are going to run it, and they still can’t stop them. Everyone knew Foster had talent, but Ben Tate has been a revelation, rushing for an impressive 5.6 yards per attempt.
2) Great D: The Texans’ defense has never inspired much confidence, and last year they were down right horrible, ranking 29th in points allowed, and 30th in yards allowed. During the offseason, they brought in Wade Phillips to try and shake things up, and he’s done just that. He turned one of the worst defenses last year into one of the best this year, ranking second in points allowed and first in yards allowed. The turnaround is truly impressive, and it shows both that the Texans’ have been building a great defense despite their recent failures to impress, and that Phillips knows what he is doing.
3) Surviving injuries: One of the most impressive things about the Texans this season is that they’ve managed to do it despite some major injuries. When Mario Williams was lost, people wondered if the defense could keep up it’s ridiculous season. If anything, they’ve been playing better since he went out.
Then Andre Johnson was lost, and everyone was sure that the offense was going to start to struggle, but it still ranks near the top of the league. Their fantastic run game has helped take pressure off the passing game, but their passing attack is averaging 8.5 yards per attempt (second in the league behind Greenbay’s out-of-this-world 9.7 Y/A) despite their star receiver missing some serious time.
4) Matt Leinart: Speaking of injuries, some people think the Texans are toast now that they’ve lost Matt Schaub. Now no one thinks Leinart is better than Schaub, but they could do a lot worse (just ask the Raiders, who had to mortgage their future after their starter went down).
For the first time in his career, no one expects anything from him, he won’t have to attempt too many passes a game, and he doesn’t need the offense to score a ton of points for the Texans to win. He had a rough time of it in Arizona, but reports have it that he came into Houston having eaten some humble pie, and that he’s been training hard all season. Leinart won’t threaten to steal the starting job from Schaub going into next season, but he’ll do enough to get the Texans into the playoffs for the first time in their history. If fans aren’t thankful to have him as their backup, they should remind themselves that they could have Curtis Painter.
5) A realistic shot at the playoffs: The Texans have always been frustrating, winning a few big games here and there, but never winning consistently enough to make the playoffs. This year is different. They’re winning games, some of them in dominate fashion, and with a relatively easy schedule to end the year they should be making the playoffs for the first time in their history. This isn’t like previous seasons where they had to go on a run and win a handful of games just to grab the last wildcard spot (which they never could manage to do). This year they have a two-game lead and a really good chance at winning their division.
Not only should Texans fans be thankful that they have a great chance at winning their division this year, but they should be thankful that it looks like this team is for real and has a good chance of being in the playoffs for the next few years at least.