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5 Texans Who Will Prove Vital for the Playoff Run

Sitting at 6-3 and leading the AFC South the Texans only have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers standing between them from their 7th win of the season and their much-needed bye week.

Johnathan Joseph and Andre Johnson

The Texans remaining opponents having a combined record of 23-34, but they have the potential to be some tough opponents if they can turn in around in the second half of the season. If anything, the Texans can be their own worst enemies, but let's hope that is not the case.

With Head Coach Gary Kubiak pushing all the right buttons and with the help of Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips making the defense one of the best in the NFL, the Texans are going to have to produce on the field to get to the promised land.

Here are five Texans who are vital for the potential playoff run.

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1. Andre Johnson- If there is any Texans player who deserves a playoff opportunity it has to be Johnson. Since 2003, he has easily been the face of the franchise, but his early season hamstring injury has kept him on the sideline for 5 games. The long-term goal is to get him healthy, but when he comes back he will instant upgrade the offense when he steps into the huddle. Johnson commands respect on the field and when he is there teams cannot play an extra safety in the box because they are going to have to worry about Johnson.

2. Matt Schaub- Schaub was brought to Houston to erase the memories of the previous player that wore the #8 jersey for the Texans. Coming here in 2007, he has turned the Texans into a respectable offense and has been a great duo with Andre Johnson. Now with a solid defense for the first time in his 5 years with the Texans, Schaub has been a solid player for the team through 9 games. No one can deny when he gets help from the running game, he is one of the better quarterbacks in the league.

3. Johnathan Joseph- No one can deny the impact he has made on the Texans defense and more importantly the culture of the team. Joseph is the best free agent signing in team history and has made every secondary player around him better. His ability to shut down the other team's go to target is a big part of Wade Phillips' defensive scheme. He may not be the "best" defensive player on the field for the Texans, but in the scheme of what the Texans do he is the most important piece of the puzzle.

4. Brian Cushing- Make no mistake why Cushing, the newly anointed captain, is on the list. The energy he brings to the field is unmatched and his ability to lead the defense has shown since week 1. The torch has been passed to Cushing to take DeMeco Ryans place as the leader of the defense, but it is for the good of the team. Ryans is the emotional leader, but Cushing is the one who leads with examples, like his physical play. He leads the team in tackles and is earning back the respect he once lost.

5. Antonio Smith- One of the few Texans with Super Bowl and playoff experience, Smith is going to have to get back to his old ways of putting hits on the quarterback. Dinged up with a shoulder injury last week against the Browns, Smith is an important part of the Texans defensive line. He sets the tone with his relentless pursuit, but his leadership down the road will be key. Smith has to keep his emotions in check and play disciplined football in this important stretch of football coming up for the Texans.