Best Texans Team Ever: 2009

Notable Players: QB Matt Schaub. WR Andre Johnson, DE Mario Williams, TE Owen Daniels, MLB DeMeco Ryans, LB Brian Cushing, SS Bernard Pollard

Analysis: Let’s be frank. This will be the lone best team ever in our series of 32 that didn’t advance to the playoffs. These Texans are the best because they posted the only winning record in franchise history.

They did it despite some serious faults: a terrible run defense at the outset, a terrible run game and too many missed field goals late in close games.

Schaub posted the sixth-highest passing yardage season in league history. His 4,770 yards exceeded the best years for Peyton Manning or Warren Moon. Schaub accomplished this despite losing his second-best pass-catcher, tight end Owen Daniels, to a knee injury at the season’s midpoint.

The defense started poorly, but once in-season addition Pollard settled in, things settled down. Outside linebacker Cushing was fantastic from the start and won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Schaub showed just how valuable he can be, but these Texans often relied on his passing to win or stay in games. A win at struggling Tennessee early was the lone division victory. A 1-5 overall division record set up an impossible route to the postseason.

The Texans are hopeful the 2010 edition will replace this team as a franchise-best. A more balanced club and a playoff berth would accomplish that.

Most impressive win: I’m really struggling to pick one here, but I'll go with 34-31 in Nashville over the Titans in Week 2. Schaub threw four touchdowns to offset a huge day for Titans running back Chris Johnson.

Research room: The 2009 Texans were only the second AFC South team to finish with a winning record and not make the playoffs. (Jacksonville was 9-7 in 2004.)

Honorable mention:

2008: Andre Johnson was outstanding and running back Steve Slaton was a revelation with 1,282 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. But the 2008 Texans were outscored by 28 points. An 0-4 start killed them and a 5-1 finish was only enough for 8-8 overall.