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Houston Texans enter 2012 as AFC South favorites

"NFL Total Access" has continued this week with its "32 teams in 32 days" series. We decided to score some brownie points by writing an accompanying post each night. We'll focus on one goal that each team needs to accomplish before Week 1.

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Heading into 2011, they were an AFC South afterthought, the only team in the NFL that had never been to the playoffs. Then Peyton Manning disappeared and the Texans made the most of the opportunity, securing their first division title and even winning a playoff game.

The offense -- if healthy -- is built for monster production with Matt Schaub and two all-world talents in Arian Foster and Andre Johnson leading the way. When you remember the Texans' defense finished No. 2 overall last season, it makes sense why some people are hanging Super Bowl predictions on the Texans' horns in 2012.

Now we'll find out how the team reacts to those lofty expectations. The defense will face a special challenge, with Mario Williams settling into his new mansion in Buffalo and team leader DeMeco Ryans now running the defense in Philadelphia.

Despite the losses, defensive end J.J. Watt told Around the League earlier this week that the Texans expect to be better in 2012.

"We're definitely aware of expectations, and I think they're even higher in our room than they are on the outside world," he said. "Last year, I believed we finished No. 2 in overall defense, this year we want to be No. 1. It takes a lot of hard work and it's not going to be easy, but it's our goal and we expect nothing less."

The Texans are set up to become the division's signature team. It's a nice position to be in, but nothing will be handed to them.

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