32 NFL Teams in 32 Days: Texans Could Be Legit Super Bowl Contenders

Houston went all in with the additions of Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter and Joe Mixon to maximize C.J. Stroud’s rookie contract.
Ryans and Stroud led the Texans to 10 wins in 2023.
Ryans and Stroud led the Texans to 10 wins in 2023. / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Welcome to 32 teams in 32 days. To get us through the offseason, we’ll be taking a closer look at every team in the NFL, in order of projected 2024 win totals. Up next: the Texans.

The Houston Texans hit the NFL lottery last year with C.J. Stroud’s dominant rookie season and coach DeMeco Ryans delivering an AFC South title in his first year. 

After a 10–7 season, the Texans went all in to maximize Stroud’s rookie contract, signing edge rusher Danielle Hunter, and trading for wide receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Joe Mixon. Now expectations are high for Stroud’s second season, and anything less than another playoff appearance would be viewed as a failure. 

But the Texans will have the challenge of meshing their new veteran trio with their roster filled with rising young players. Outside of Stroud, the Texans feature edge rusher Will Anderson Jr., wide receiver Nico Collins and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who broke out last season after a rocky rookie season. 

If Diggs, Hunter and Mixon make an immediate impact, the Texans might be more than offseason hype and could contend for a Super Bowl. They have come a long way since they won a combined 11 games from 2020 to ’22.  

Biggest gamble this offseason: Pairing Stroud with Diggs

Diggs, 30, has been one of the most consistent playmakers in the league, with six consecutive seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards, and he’s grabbed at least 100 receptions in five of the past six seasons. Production has never been the issue for Diggs, but he’s had locker room issues with the Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills. Diggs had a rocky relationship with Josh Allen, possibly over his involvement in the offense, and it didn’t help that Diggs didn’t have a 100-yard receiving game in the final 13 games of 2023. 

The Texans are banking on Diggs fitting their offensive scheme and building a productive relationship with Stroud, who quickly showed leadership as a rookie last season. Diggs, however, might need to be O.K. with being the No. 2 option behind Collins, who recently signed a three-year, $72.75 million contract extension. The Texans also have last year’s rookie sensation, Tank Dell, and reliable tight end Dalton Schultz.  

Even if Diggs has lost a step, he’s still coming off a season in which he had 107 receptions, 1,183 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. If Diggs prioritizes wins over targets, Stroud could have the best receiving corps in the NFL. 

Toughest stretch of the season: Weeks 7 to 11

The Texans will prove whether they’re legitimate Super Bowl contenders during a five-game stretch starting at the midway point of the season. First, Houston goes on the road in Week 7 to face the Green Bay Packers in an intriguing matchup between Stroud and Jordan Love. From there, the Texans return home for their second meeting with the Indianapolis Colts before traveling to face Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets. The stretch concludes with a home battle vs. the Detroit Lions and an all-Texas showdown against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. 

Breakout player to watch: LB Christian Harris

NFL fans might have become familiar with Harris after he intercepted Joe Flacco and rumbled for a 36-yard touchdown during Houston’s dominant 45–14 wild-card victory against the Cleveland Browns. Harris made many game-changing plays during his second NFL season, recording 101 total tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble. The Alabama product tends to be at the right place at the right time as a productive pass rusher and sideline-to-sideline playmaker. Expect the 2022 third-round pick to continue making impact plays. 

Best-case scenario: Diggs, Mixon, Hunter make an immediate impact 

Houston Texans wide receiver Stefon Diggs
Diggs has six consecutive seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards, and he’s grabbed at least 100 receptions in five of the past six seasons. / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The veterans Diggs, Mixon and Hunter arrived in Houston with decorated careers, but with plenty of wear and tear from their previous NFL homes. If the trio quickly shows they still have plenty to offer, the Texans could be more than offseason hype and become the latest Super Bowl contenders in the loaded AFC. But even if Diggs, Mixon and Hunter contribute in limited snaps, the Texans have plenty of depth, with one of the best rosters in the NFL, which features Anderson, running back Dameon Pierce, Collins and Dell.

The Texans don’t need their veteran trio to be All-Pros, but if they make an impact and mesh well with the emerging playmakers, the Texans could be a dangerous team once the postseason arrives.  

Worst-case scenario: Stroud, Texans regress

If Diggs, Mixon and Hunter show their age on the field, the Texans still have enough talent to make the postseason. But if Diggs is unhappy and forces Stroud to throw him the ball, that could disrupt the rhythm of the offense. The Texans need to put Stroud first because he’s the key to helping them become Super Bowl contenders. The Texans also took a risk by swapping Jonathan Greenard with Hunter, who’s heading into his age-30 season and received a two-year, $49 million contract.

If there’s drama and the veterans struggle, the Texans could become the latest overhyped team in the NFL, possibly bringing back memories of the 2011 “Dream Team” Philadelphia Eagles. 

Head coach-quarterback tandem ranking

No. 4: Ryans (9) and Stroud (4)

This might be a bit high for Ryans, but it’s hard not to be bullish. The Texans won 11 games total in three years before his arrival, and won 10 last year. Then there’s Stroud, who appears to be the next great quarterback in the NFL. As a rookie, he passed for 4,108 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, earning Offensive Rookie of the Year. —Matt Verderame

Fantasy pick: Avoid Diggs

Diggs is coming off a disappointing second half of last season, which resulted in his averaging just 16.1 points per game. That was his lowest total with the Bills. Now in Houston, he joins a super-talented core of receivers, so Diggs will be hard pressed to see anywhere near the target share he enjoyed in Buffalo. So, unless injuries occur on the roster, Diggs can’t be trusted to retain his previously elite status. —Michael Fabiano

Best bet: Texans win the AFC South (+105) at DraftKings 

The Texans took the title last year, and they look even friskier with the offseason additions of Diggs and Mixon.  I don’t see a sophomore slump for Stroud or Ryans. Maybe Joe Burrow’s 2021 AFC championship with the Bengals is still too fresh in my mind, but  I’m also putting a sprinkle on the Texans to win the AFC at +850. —Jen Piacenti

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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Gilberto Manzano