Theres been a lot of chatter about missed opportunities, what if this and what if that, and whether the close games reflect an improvement in talent or incompetence in coaching. I dont post here much and havent started a thread in years (since The People v. Gary Kubiak and Richard Smith for 2nd Degree Murder of Defense"). I thought Id approach the subject of the Texans' future from a gut level, and see what folks think about where the Texans project in 2010 power rankings. Tier 1 Elite Teams: Colts, Pats and Chargers These three teams are just better than everyone else. Elite QB play, strong defenses, track record of sustained success. I dont think anyone could say that these are not elite teams. Tier 2: The Next Five: Steelers, Ravens, Texans, Tenn and Jets Here is where the debate begins. I think these five teams, in the order listed, are the next tier of teams that have the best shot at the playoffs. Steelers and Ravens have had recent playoff success and elite defensive units. The Steelers worst season in the last three was 2009, where they went 9-7 after a superbowl hangover. In the other 2 years, they were 10-6 and 12-4. The Ravens have been 5-11, 11-5 and 9-7. Theyre just good tough teams. (Id almost put the Steelers in Tier 1). I think the Texans are next and trend upwards. We have young players that will improve, particularly on defense. The keys are Schaubs health and Kubiaks coaching in big games. Add a running game and you address both key issues. As much as I hate them, the Titans are right there with the Texans. Theyve been 10-6, 13-3 and 8-8. I look for them to rebound with a stronger defense and Chris Johnson still beasting. The Jets have an elite defense and running game, which should continue. I ding them for QB play and the fact that they were given the last two games this year. The Jets have been 5-11, 9-7 and 9-7. Tier 3: The Rodney Dangerfields: Cincy, Denver, Jacksonville, Miami Is Cincy capable of any sustained success or ganizational stability. Denvers disasterous fade makes their early success seem like a mirage. Jackson ville doesnt have the talent of the Tier 1 and 2 teams. Miami is the Houston Rockets of the NFL the ultimate try hard team, they get every ounce of performance from the talent they have. Would anyone be surprised at all if these teams turned in a 5-11 or 6-10 season? Not me. (All AFC Teams not mentioned are likely garbage) Analysis: We dont have the talent or sustained success of Tier 1 teams, but we should be in the mix. In December 2010, we should be fighting for a playoff spot. We have to find a way to enter December with a winning record and not be hoping for a 4 game winning streak and help from other teams to make it. So much will turn on adding a running game and Kubiaks coaching. If we play to our talent level, we should be in. (Some would say that was the case this year, but it will be the case in 2010 even more clearly). If we dont, its a failure of leadership and we need a new regime. Id like to see your power rankings and analysis of how the Texans project.