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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: September 23, 12:27 PM ET
No. 21: Houston Texans

By Morty Ain
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 18
Title track: 57
Ownership: 19
Coaching: 74
Players: 28
Fan relations: 22
Affordability: 65
Stadium experience: 42
Bang for the buck: 11

In 2012 J.J. Watt burst through O-lines like the Kool-Aid Man; the 6-foot-5 Defensive Player of the Year notched 20.5 sacks and more swats than Mutombo. He also "married" a 6-year-old fan, played football with kids from Sandy Hook and even carted an imaginary wheelchair after a sack to show solidarity with two children paralyzed in a terrible car wreck. Watt is popular. Heck, everyone was drinking the punch after the Texans stormed out to an 11-1 start (note: The Texans had never won more than 10 games in franchise history). So when the team shanked a first-round bye and sputtered out of the divisional round (with nine Pro Bowlers) the blame ended up where it usually does: head coach Gary Kubiak (ranked 74th).

Yet this season the front office is still going to make the franchise feel like a winner. Former Raven and Super Bowl-winning safety Ed Reed was brought in for veteran leadership. Tickets will get a 9.8 percent bump after an 8.5 percent hike last year. And the two most antiquated video monitors in the NFL will be swapped out for the mother of all scoreboards: two 52.5-by-277-foot monstrosities that could swallow Jerry Jones' TV whole and still have room for dessert. Overkill? Certainly, but it's all in the name of bringing Super Bowl LI to Reliant Stadium. If ownership has made one thing clear it's this: It will bring a champion to Houston one way or another.