Texans face tall order in Kansas City

Expect Chiefs to force the Run Game

The Houston Texans come into Arrowhead stadium riding a disappointing 4-game losing streak but confident that they can right the ship and the team has decided that Case Keenum is the man to begin the turnaround while Matt Schaub nurses an ankle and foot injury.

“We’re struggling, and we’re looking for a spark,” Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. “I think he deserves an opportunity to go out there. It’s a tough place to play. It’s a tough place to get your first start and all that good stuff. But I’m not sending him out there by himself. I’m sending him out there with his football team, and the guys understand that.”

The Kansas City Chiefs, on the other hand, are stil undefeated with a 6-0 record and don’t seem to be slowing down regardless of what many pundits describe as a weak schedule.

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Texans sign C Chris Myers to long-term contract

HOUSTON – The Houston Texans have re-signed Pro Bowl C to a long-term contract, it was announced today. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Myers became the first offensive lineman in franchise history to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl following last season. The eighth-year veteran served as a captain and started all 18 regular season and postseason games for Houston’s second-ranked rushing offense, which posted 11 100-yard rushing performances and a franchise-record 2,448 yards rushing (153.0 per game) in the regular season.

Myers has started 64 consecutive regular season games and two playoff games at center for the Texans since being traded to the team from Denver in 2008. The Texans have had their four best offensive campaigns with Myers anchoring the line, ranking among the NFL’s top four in total offense from 2008-10 and third among all NFL offenses with 381.0 yards per game since 2008. Houston is one of three teams to eclipse 2,000 yards rushing in each of the last two seasons, settings franchise records with 2,042 yards rushing in 2010 and with last year’s performance.

Texans setting sights higher in 2012

The Texans’ 2011 season ended two games short of Super Bowl XLVI, with a seven-point loss to the Baltimore Ravens sending them home in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Despite the lingering disappointment from that narrow loss and the what-ifs that came with it, optimism abounds for what’s ahead in 2012.

“We expect nothing less but a Super Bowl,” defensive end said last week after playing in the Pro Bowl. “That’s what we want to aim our eyes at. We’ve already made division champs. We’ve already made it to the playoffs. You could shoot nothing more than for a Super Bowl. If you’re shooting anything less than that, you’re cheating yourself.”

The Texans were one of the most balanced teams in the NFL this season before quarterback suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 10. They ranked fifth in scoring (27.3 points per game) and second in scoring defense (16.6 points per game) through 10 games. For much of the season, even for several weeks after Schaub’s injury, they were the only team in the NFL to rank in the top 10 in yards on offense and defense.

Even with a litany of injuries to key players, the Texans won the AFC South title and trounced the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10 in the first round of the playoffs.

“It was just a building step,” Pro Bowl center said. “Obviously, we wanted to be able to make it as far as we could and went to the second round even with all the adversity that we had. It’s just a path that we want to take and keep growing. Now, the expectations aren’t just playoffs anymore. It’s bigger and better things – AFC Championship and Super Bowl.”

One of the reasons the Texans have such high hopes for next season is because of their defense, which will return every end-of-season starter in 2012 and should only get better with a first full offseason under coordinator Wade Phillips.

A majority of the Texans’ defensive players made a pact to stay in Houston and train together this offseason instead of going their separate ways.

“We want to gel a little bit in the offseason and get everyone there so we can work and push each other,” cornerback said. “And that’s the ultimate goal, pushing each other, and that’s what gets you over the top. Competition is always a good thing, and I think we have that on our team. I received a lot of texts from a lot of guys (during the Pro Bowl week); even texted me just cracking little jokes.

“Being around those guys on a day-to-day basis, it’s like a brotherhood. I can’t wait to get back with those guys because I came on a short time (in free agency last year), and at the end, I kind of was like, ‘This is family.’”

Smith, Myers and Joseph were the Texans’ only three Pro Bowlers this season. That number should significantly increase a year from now, but the Texans hope to be otherwise occupied.

As much as the Texans’ coaches appreciated their week in Hawaii, which they earned by being the highest-seeded team in the AFC to lose in the Divisional Round, they have their sights set on getting to a slightly more important game next February.

“I’ll take it one time; I don’t want to do it again, though,” special teams coordinator Joe Marciano said after the Pro Bowl. “Hopefully, we’ll be going a little further and we don’t have to come back here anymore.

“There’s so much promise we’re going to take the next step. We’re gonna take the next step. The guys know it. We know it. I know it. Fans know it. Coaches know it. Players know it. We’re gonna do it.”