It's becoming impossible to ignore the Houston Texans now. The team that's often regarded as forever second fiddle in its own state isn't just rolling, off to a franchise-record 7-3 start after Sunday's 37-9 dismantling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It's winning in dominant style—and the most prominent football voices in the country are taking notice.
When Sports Illustrated's Peter King—the most well-known football writer in the country—made up his Midseason All-Pro Team, he put two Texans on it. That is as many spots as any team in the league earned on the 26-man team outside of the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, who placed three players on King's best.
King only picked a starting 11 on offense and defense (as well as four kicking game specialists) making a spot on the team even more prestigious. This isn't one of those all-pro teams with three middle linebackers and four runnings backs. You're either the best at your spot in the NFL or you're not on the team.
The Texans who King selected as the best might surprise even some diehard Houston fans. For you will not find linebacker Brian Cushing—who is being touted for NFL Defensive MVP—or Arian Foster, who showed why he's the most dangerous weapon in football in turning a six-yard throw from Matt Schaub into a 78-yard touchdown against Tampa Bay, on the team.
This isn't one of those all-pro teams with three middle linebackers and four runnings backs. You're either the best at your spot in the NFL or you're not on the team.
Instead, it's cornerback Johnathan Joseph of the NFL's top-rated defense and right tackle Eric Winston who King pick out as the best in the NFL at their positions.
On Joseph, King writes, "GM Rick Smith preferred Joseph over Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency. Good call." He calls Winston's "a pile driver" and credits the Texans' offensive line with being critical to the success of Foster, a "one-cut-and-get-upfield back."
"I saw it," Winston told CultureMap. "It's nice. It's a national writer so it probably means a little more. It shows that people are starting to notice what we're doing. When you're winning, you get that kind of stuff. It shows that people are starting pay attention to this team as much as anything."
All of Joseph's teammates in the defensive backfield have paid attention to Joseph since his first day in a Texans' uniform.
"He just brings an attitude of confidence," cornerback Jason Allen said. "He doesn't just believe that he's going to get it done. From day one, he's shown confidence in all of us. He believes we're going to get it done as a unit."
Remember, you can watch Eric Winston's online sports TV show, Not Your Ordinary Sports Show, live in the video module on the front page of CultureMap every Monday night at 7:30 p.m.