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Time for Texans and Jets to put up or shut up

Time for Texans and Jets to put up or shut up

Two big talkers in the offseason, the Houston Texans and New York Jets, finally walk the walk on Sunday as the NFL season kicks off.
If the Texans are to contend for their first playoff berth, they must find a way to beat the Indianapolis Colts, who go to Reliant Stadium on Sunday. Houston has beaten the Colts only once in 16 attempts since entering the league in 2002.
Talk that this is the year the Texans will challenge the Colts in the AFC South division will be meaningless if the Colts keep on dominating the series.
"The expectation for the organization is to win a championship," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "That can't get done until we win the AFC South or make the playoffs, so we've got to stay focused on those two things and that will be our goal. But we've got to understand the work that has to come to accomplish those goals."
Houston's optimism is based on its first winning record (9-7) a year ago, plus an offense that led the NFL in passing. The Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson combination is as good as any in the league, and tight end Owen Daniels is back from a torn right knee ligament sustained midway through the 2009 schedule.
Of course, the Colts are coming off an AFC title and have surrounded four-time MVP Peyton Manning with an even better cast on offense. If the defense is decent, another trip to the Super Bowl is hardly far-fetched.
"One thing we've always done, whether finishing on top or finishing short, is to put the previous season behind us," Manning said. "We are just going to keep trying to do things the right way."
The Jets added stars such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie to their lineup, which only increased their everyday verbosity.
"This is who we are," coach Rex Ryan said without apologies. "Some people are going to like us and some people are not. At the end of the day, we want to paint an accurate picture of who we are."
They should find out pretty quickly how good they are, with home matchups against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday and then against the New England Patriots.
The Ravens are another hot choice to go far this year. They also have bulked up their offense by bringing in receivers Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, joining versatile running back Ray Rice, dependable veteran wideout Derrick Mason, and a healthy at last tight end Todd Heap. Their defense always is formidable.
Few teams are receiving the Super Bowl hype that Green Bay is. The Packers really seem to be grasping the 3-4 defense that coordinator Dom Capers installed last year, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks primed for a huge season. But there are questions on the offensive line, which will be tested by the Philadelphia Eagles' Trent Cole, and in the secondary, which faces dangerous receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and tight end Brent Celek.
Kevin Kolb has the quarterback job after Donovan McNabb was released and nobody in Philadelphia wants to use the rebuilding word. Still, this is not the star-studded Eagles roster that went to five NFC title games in the last decade.
T.O. and Ochocinco on one side, Randy Moss and Wes Welker on the other. Carson Palmer and Tom Brady chucking the ball.
With New England hosting the Cincinnati Bengals, two division winners who lost wild-card playoff games and are expecting to go deeper in the playoffs face off in what could be the most entertaining matchup of the first weekend. It could get loud, given the trash-talking ways of Cincinnati's wideouts Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco.
Other openers include Dallas at Washington; Atlanta at Pittsburgh; Denver at Jacksonville; Carolina at the New York Giants; San Francisco at Seattle; Miami at Buffalo; Arizona at St. Louis; Detroit at Chicago; Oakland at Tennessee; and Cleveland at Tampa Bay.
The other Monday game has San Diego at Kansas City.
Opening weekend began on Thursday with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints grinding out a 14-9 win over Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings in a rematch of last season's NFC title game thriller. A key stat: The Saints held Minnesota to 253 yards of offense.


Updated : 2021-02-27 00:19 GMT+08:00