The New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans are Dark Horses in their respective conferences in 2013. the reasons why are different but the effect is the same. Each is capable of reaching deep into the playoffs and even a Super Bowl but there are compelling reasons why they haven’t been labeled as favorites.
The Houston Texans are coming off of a season that saw a strong run followed by a late season and playoff collapse. That alone should be enough to give them Dark Horse status but there’s more. Matt Schaub has been a good quarterback but not the quarterback he was picked to be when Houston traded for him. His performance when the big games against tough opponents are on the line has been less than stellar. Going into 2013 Schaub isn’t the only concern for the Texans. Adrian Foster, who has racked up a ton of carries and a ton of yards in the last two season, is having a tough time getting on the field because of a lingering back problem.
The good news? Andre Johnson is still a beast and Houston seems to be developing a supporting cast. Ben Tate ran over the New Orleans Saints defense in their pre-season game. Within their division the Texans still have a window of opportunity to make the playoffs. If they can get past the crunch times.
The New Orleans Saints are almost as unpredictable as you can get. Will the return of Sean Payton spark a new era of offensive genius and make Drew Brees even more effective? Can Mark Ingram take over the running game and give New Orleans a much needed ground game to go with their NFL leading aerial attack? Can Rob Ryan get a defense that was victimized time and again last season back into even mediocre status? Can the New Orleans Saints take back their NFC South crown from the Atlanta Falcons, a team tabbed as Super Bowl worthy?
In the game against the Texans Drew Brees was fairly effective in his short playing time. More importantly for New Orleans, who played without the services of Marques Colston, their top receiver, Payton seems to have turned up another receiving gem in Kenny Stills, a 5th Round pick who’d been making waves in the pre-season with athletic catches and most importantly, touchdowns. That much maligned defense seems to be energized by Ryan, who seems to be making a new player out of defensive linemen Cameron Jordan in a vital area.
With so may questions marks it’s easy to see why the “experts” are baffled by the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints. But we could be seeing these two teams making their mark in 2013.Eric Drouant