Throughout July, we will reveal a prediction involving an interesting player or team leading into the 2014 NFL season.
Prediction: The Houston Texans will make the Playoffs
Fresh off of a season in which the Texans finished the year with the worst record in the league, leading to the first pick in the draft, the Houston Texans are expected to bounce back in 2014 to get back over .500, which would be good enough to earn a Wild Card spot in the AFC. Over the first half of 2013, the Texans were one of the unluckiest teams in the history of the league, routinely allowing turnovers to be returned for touchdowns at an unprecedented rate. By the end of the year, the team was battered by injuries, had seemingly given up and was simply bad.
Adding top choice Jadeveon Clowney to the mix helps some, as does the expectation for some better fortune with turnovers, but the key to a turnaround for Houston will be health. Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, Duane Brown, Chris Myers, Brian Cushing and Johnathan Joseph are among the best players at their positions when they are healthy enough to see the field and JJ Watt is the most dominant player relative to position in the league. The stars are there to help carry this team - almost regardless of quarterback play – and new head coach Bill O'Brien appears to have the pedigree to get the most out of this team. Playing four games against the Jaguars and Titans in the division and also drawing the Raiders, Bills and Cowboys certainly does not hurt the Texans' chances.
Technically, Houston only makes the playoffs 48.5% of the 50,000 simulations for the season, but that's still good enough for the fifth most likely chance in the AFC and likely first Wild Card in the conference. Arizona is the only other team that did not make last year's postseason that is in our most likely playoffs. The Cardinals may be the third best team in their division, but they rank as a top ten team overall. With the average postseason turning over half of its teams in the last 15 years, the next four most likely teams to make this year's playoffs that missed last year's postseason are (in order), the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens.