2014 Record: 9-7-0 (2nd in AFC South)
HEAD COACH: Bill O'Brien
New Players in 2015 - QB Brian Hoyer; WR Cecil Shorts; RB Chris Polk; WR Nate Washington; DB Stevie Brown; DB Rahim Moore; DL Vince Wilfork.
OFFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 17th in NFL (344.6 ypg)
DEFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 16th in NFL (348.2 ypg)
Offense: Either Ryan Mallett (400 yards passing with two TD and INT) or Brian Hoyer can be the team's quarterback in 2015. Hoyer comes over from Cleveland, where he passed for 3,326 yards with twelve touchdowns and 13 interceptions a year ago.
Starting running back Arian Foster (1,246 yards with 4.8 ypc average and eight TD) suffered a severe groin injury in training camp and will be out for at least the first part of the regular season, if not longer.
That will leave Alfred Blue (528 yards, 3.1 ypc and two TD) and/or Jonathan Grimes as the team's halfback until Foster is ready. Chris Polk adds depth at running back.
The wide receiving corps no longer has Andre Johnson, who went to the Indianapolis Colts in the off-season. DeAndre Hopkins had 76 receptions a year ago for 1,210 yards with six touchdowns and will start along with either Cecil Shorts (53, 557, one TD with Jacksonville) or rookie Jaelen Strong (Arizona State) or possibly Nate Washington, who caught 40 passes for 647 yards and two scores with Tennessee last year. The tight end is Garrett Graham, who made 18 receptions a year ago.
The O-Line has tackles Duane Brown and Derek Newton, center Ben Jones and guards Xavier Su'a-Filo and Brandon Brooks.
Defense: One name comes to mind for the Texans on this side of the football and that is Defensive End J.J. Watt, who is a force to be reckoned with on defense. Watt had 20 1/2 quarterback sacks last season and will team with nose tackle Vince Wilfork and fellow end Jared Crick (3 1/2 sacks) up front in the 3-4 set.
The linebacking unit has Brian Cushing and Akeem Dent on the inside with Whitney Mercilus (five sacks) and Jadeveon Clowney looking to be the outside backers. Clowney missed his rookie season with injuries and will look to join Watt as a force in the Texans defense.
Meanwhile, one of the team's top rookie picks is linebacker Benardrick McKinney, who will look to get on the field regularly along with Mike Mohamed, Justin Tuggle, Jason Ankrah and A.J. Bouye (three interceptions).
The secondary had some issues last season and will have top rookie pick Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest) possibly stepping in at cornerback along with Kareem Jackson (three interceptions) and Jonathan Joseph, who made two picks. The safeties are Stevie Brown and Rahim Moore (four INT with Denver last year). Jumal Rolle (three picks) is a good player in the nickel package.
OUTLOOK FOR 2015 - The Texans are the one team that may challenge the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South and even that's a big reach given the team's quarterback situation coming into the 2015 season.
Add to that not having leading rusher Arian Foster for the first half of the season (possibly longer) and the fact that either of the two quarterbacks looking to take the reigns has only one returning regular wideout this year and it may take awhile for the offense to get going.
Head Coach Bill O'Brien knows his team's defense is pretty solid with Watt and (hopefully) a healthy Cushing and Clowney at linebacker. The run defense ranked tenth overall and the Texans had 20 interceptions last year along with 38 QB sacks. They also were ninth in scoring defense, allowing just under 20 points per game.
Houston will most likely have to contend for a wild card spot if they want to make the playoffs this season. They have a realistic shot for the post-season only if they can improve the offense with a new quarterback and have a good running game. Not having Foster will make it tougher for them after they averaged 135 yards rushing per game last year.
An 8-8 season looks to be what the Texans will be in for this season, but they could surprise with a better record if the offense clicks and the defense can stay healthy.
Week 1 - vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 2 - at Carolina Panthers
Week 3 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 4 - at Atlanta Falcons
Week 5 - vs. Indianapolis Colts
Week 6 - at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 7 - at Miami Dolphins
Week 8 - vs. Tennessee Titans
Week 9 - BYE WEEK
Week 10 - at Cincinnati Bengals
Week 11 - vs. New York Jets
Week 12 - vs. New Orleans Saints
Week 13 - at Buffalo Bills
Week 14 - vs. New England Patriots
Week 15 - at Indianapolis Colts
Week 16 - at Tennessee Titans
Week 17 - vs. Jacksonville Jaguars