No. 3 Houston Texans
The Houston Texans appear to be stumbling at the worst possible time. What once was the top team in the NFL, with a sterling 11-1 record, the Texans have gone 1-3 since the team's Week 13 win over the Tenneesse Titans. They were manhandled by the Patriots in Week 14, a 42-14 loss on Monday Night Football, before taking another two losses to end the season against the Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts to finish 12-4.
Despite six Pro Bowl players on offense, the strength of the Texans lies with the team's defense. J.J. Watt (pictured) finished with 20.5 sacks to help lead Houston to the seventh-best total defense in the league. Between Watt and Antonio Smith, the Texans set the edges well and allow their linebackers to clean up the rest. In the secondary, led by top-flight corner Johnathan Joseph, the Texans favor man-to-man coverage.
Houston's offense is paced by running back Arian Foster, who finished with 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. If Foster gets going along with backups Ben Tate and Justin Forsett, the Texans will use their success on the ground to set up play-action.
Quarterback Matt Schaub was also named to the Pro Bowl. He threw for 4,008 yards and 22 touchdowns with 90.7 quarterback rating. Receiver Andre Johnson (112 catches, 1,598 yards, 4 touchdowns) is one of the best in the NFL, but tight end Owen Daniels (62 catches, 716 yards, 6 touchdowns) is more likely to reach paydirt.
Cornerback Alan Ball, a nickel and dime coverage defensive back for the Texans, has missed the last five games.
In Week 14, the Patriots dominated the game up front against the Texans while Tom Brady carved up Houston's secondary for 296 yards and four touchdowns. Vince Wilfork made a home in the Texans' backfield. He recorded a strip-sack, a tackle for a loss, and a pass defensed. His penetration allowed for many more Patriots to make plays around him. The Texans face the Cincinnati Bengals to begin postseason play.