When I listed the Houston Texans as trending up in my season-in-review, it produced the following response from one of my esteemed colleagues: "That might be the most ridiculous thing you've ever written." Debatable, given that I once did a post entirely about 90s rap that focused on one-hit wonders such as Vanilla Ice. But I invited the opportunity to explain myself.
After all, the rest of my review of 2013 was decidedly negative. The Texans didn't meet anyone's expectations -- least of all their own -- last season as they hurdled through a nonstop carousel of problems. They finished with the worst record in the NFL and suffered a franchise record 14-game losing streak.
Despite all that, this team is trending up. They made a big change in replacing former coach Gary Kubiak with Bill O'Brien, and his changes have already started taking effect. Absent psychic ability (in which case, please call me) none of us knows how the O'Brien era will go on the field, but the opportunity for positive change is there. Add to that the top pick in the draft, something that partially removes the luck element from that process, and Houston is well positioned for recovery.
Seven other NFL Nation reporters covering non-playoff teams listed their teams as trending up. The eight of us got together and ranked the teams from which one we most expected to make the playoffs next season to which we least expected. As you can see below, I wasn't alone in my optimism about Houston's 2014 season.