Week 1: Houston Texans Vs. Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackThe Texans finally made the playoffs last year and they should be a legitimate AFC challenger to New England as long as Matt Schaub stays healthy. Schaub has great field vision, accuracy and a quick release.Perhaps the best thing football fans have seen on HBO’s Hard Knocks series with the Miami Dolphins has been the development and play of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. While his numbers have not been overwhelming, he has picked up rookie head coach Joe Philbin’s system and he has been named the starter.
- OffenseThe Texans have one of the most versatile offensive attacks in the league, thanks to the presence of running back Arian Foster who can run inside, outside and catch passes. If Andre Johnson can stay healthy, he could challenge Calvin Johnson as the No. 1 receiver in the league. Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels can get open and make plays on third down.Reggie Bush looks like he has the potential to be one of the best running backs in the league. He’s got explosive strength and quickness, but can he stay healthy. Davone Bess is an ordinary wideout who is the best the Dolphins have on their roster.
- DefenseWade Phillips is not a good head coach, but he is superb as a defensive coordinator and the Texans’ defense improved from the 30th-ranked unit in 2010 to the 2nd-best defense last year. Defensive end J.J. Watt is a potential Pro Bowler because of his power and instincts. Inside linebacker Brian Cushing simply does not miss tackles.The Dolphins have little hope of putting together a credible offense this season, so that means the pressure is going to be on the defense. Defensive end Cameron Wake and Karlos Dansby are the two impact players on the defense who are going to have to produce on an every-week basis.
- Special TeamsThe Texans said goodbye to veteran placekicker Neil Rackers and drafted Randy Bullock out of Texas A&M to take his place. Danieal Manning and rookie Keshawn Martin have big-play ability in the return game.The Dolphins have an excellent punter in Brandon Fields, who had a 41.1-yard net average a year ago. Dan Carpenter is a solid placekicker who made 29-of-34 field goal attempts last year with a long of 58 yards.
The Texans look like they should be the AFC South champion by a wide margin. The Dolphins may be the worst team in the NFL. This should be a mismatch from the opening kickoff as the Texans have a huge advantage in talent at the skill positions.