At the moment -- we look like (i) a ground and pound machine running the ball, tops in the league, (ii) highly effective in the air, (iii) elite at stopping the run, and (iv) an atrocity against the pass. I predict that by year end, we will be a playoff team, but the extreme stats will pull back to the middle. Consider this, at the quarter pole of the season: 1. Three of the teams we have played (Indy, Wash and Dallas) are very pass happy and effective in the air. Hence magnifying our pass defense deficiencies. 2. These three teams also happen to be crap at running the ball. Our run defense looks quite good, and perhaps we are, given that we slowed the Raiders and had a good run defense for the latter part of last year. 3. With the exception of Dallas, to whom we lost, three of the teams we faced have poor (Indy and Wash) or average (Oak) defenses after the quarter mark of the season. This has helped us amass 30+ ppg per win. The schedule is about to change dramatically. Lets consider the nature of the teams we are going to face. 1. Many of them have run the ball effectively in the first quarter of the season: KC, NYG, SD, Jets, Tenn, Phil, Balt, Jacksonville. Baltimore has a team history and culture of doing so. This is going to test our run defense and thank heavens that Cushing is back. Are these teams going to walk into our strength in stopping the run, or will they seek to abuse our secondary? The Defense must prevail in the test of wills. 2. In contrast, just three opponents, Denver, SD and Indy, are strong passing teams. The rest of our opponents are average to poor at attacking in the air. Is our beleaguered pass defense going to catch a break, or will we make legends out of Garrard, Young, Sanchez, Flacco and Kolb? 3. Half of the teams we will face are in the top half in run defense: KC, Jets, SD, Tenn, Jacksonville. Except Indy, the rest are tough, hard nosed defenses that will be in the top half, if not top quarter, by year end: Baltimore, Giants, Philly. We will find out whether we can really shove the ball down our opponents throats, or have benefitted from weak run defenses to start the year. The Texans must run the ball with enough success for the air attack to take hold and light up the scoreboard. 4. The majority of our opponents are stout defensively overall, including three opponents (SD, Balt, NYG) sitting atop the defensive rankings. Tenn, Philly, NYJ are always tough defensively. KC and Denver are average, and Indy and Jacksonville are sieves, like us. Our offense will be tested. Schaub will have to limit turnovers and we will have to be efficient in the red zone. Historically, the Texans have struggled with smash mouth teams like the NYJ and Baltimore. Does our performance agaisnt Dallas offer an indicator of how things might go against this new type of opponent? Perhaps, but this year's squad has a new lethal dimension in the form of Arian Foster. Opposing defenses are going to have to play great to beat us. I like our chances against Denver, Jville x2, KC and even Indy. Yes, I'm talking sweep of Indy. IMO, if they can't stop our ground attack, its going to be a long day for these opponents. If we're turning the corner as a team, I like our chances against the Titans x2, Giants and Philly. Bloody and tough games, but I think we take at least half of these games. The crucible for our team is the games agaisnt SD, Baltimore and NYJ. Talented, ubertough teams that will test your talent and will in all phases. Beat 2 out of 3 and we might have a superbowl contender. -- Long post but gimme some long responses back.