“Houston Texans” will be the answer to the most frequently asked NFL question this summer. This is the team that everyone will pick to break out in 2009. This is “The Sleeper”. You’re going to hear about this team during all those sponsored television segments where football experts dilute their credibility by issuing opinionated 15-second soundbits. Here’s an example of what’s to come:
The Houston Texans are this year’s sleeper team because…
**They rebounded from an 0-4 start and went 8-4 last year.
**Quarterback Matt Schaub is entering his third season in Gary Kubiak’s system. If he can stay healthy, he can be a star. (Some experts might also add something along the lines of “Schaub must take care of the football.”)
**Running back Steve Slaton led all rookies with 1,282 yards rushing last season and should be even better considering he’s a perfect fit for this zone-blocking system. (Yes, and he’s a factor in the passing game, too.)
**Receiver Andre Johnson is unstoppable. (Good point.)
**This young offensive line, headlined by second-year left tackle Duane Brown, is getting better. (In reality, Brown is probably the only true youngster up front, but the general idea is that this line is ascending.)
**The defense will be better. Mario Williams is a beast and DeMeco Ryans is a stud. (Analysts love to bunch these two fourth-year stars together. Indeed, Williams is arguably the best defensive end in the NFL. But Ryans is coming off a down year. He’ll benefit from improved players around him, but since few television analysts have enough time––or, in some cases, knowledge––to breakdown such intricate details, we’ll save this part for later, after this introduction’s metaphor peters out).
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