Bears at Texans: Preview and prediction

Could the Houston Texans actually become the first team to play the Super Bowl in its home stadium?

Head coach Bill O’Brien begins his third season with the franchise and the expectations for the team are somewhat high. The club is coming off a 4-0 preseason (which really doesn’t mean much) but more importantly, this is a club that rebounded from a 2-5 start last season to finish 9-7 and win the AFC South.

That momentum should carry over into this season, with the Texans beaming with confidence and carrying a new identity on offense. The offseason additions of quarterback Brock Osweiler, running back Lamar Miller, and rookie wide receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller compliment an attack that already features wideout DeAndre Hopkins.

Speaking of turnarounds, the Chicago Bears had their own comeback of sorts in 2015. John Fox’s club overcame a dismal 0-3 start and played very competitive football the rest of the season, posting road wins at Kansas City and at Green Bay along the way.

This offseason, Chicago stressed defense in not only free agency but the draft as well, using six of its first nine selections in April (including first-round outside linebacker Leonard Floyd) on that side of the football while general manager Ryan Pace added the likes of inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman, and Danny Trevathan and defensive end Aikem Hicks. The Bears’ front-seven will be tested early and often by Miller and the Houston ground attack.

The Bears also addressed their offensive line early and often the last few months. But are they ready for a unit led by defensive end J.J. Watt, outside linebacker Whitney Merclius, and the rest of the speedy Texans? Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will feel the heat and the Texans defense will ultimately prove to be the difference in a physical slugfest.

Pick: Houston 20, Chicago 16

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