Two of pro football's most respected writers, Sports Illustrated's Peter King and CBS' Pete Prisco, pile on the praise for the Texans this week in their online columns.
Let's start with King. In his *Monday Morning QB *column, King puts the Texans in the "Fine Fifteen," his weekly rankings of the top 15 teams in the NFL.
"What? The Texans at No. 15 over the Jets and Cards, two division leaders? No question," King says.
Later, King names wide receiver Andre Johnson one of his two Offensive Players of the Week:
"At various points this year, I've considered Brandon Marshall or Larry Fitzgerald the best receiver in football," he says. "Not the past two or three weeks… Johnson is big, fast, acrobatic and, though he doesn't have the soft hands of Fitzgerald, his hands are plenty good to be a superstar for a long time."
That's not all from King. In his "Ten Things I Think I Think":
"8. I think if Steve Slaton (last five games: 156, 73, 130, 120, 100 yards) had been playing this big a role all season, he'd be challenging Adrian Peterson for the rushing title right now."
King also praises Johnson once again and gives props to the Texans' Battle Red uniforms, calling them "the best new uniforms in the league this year."
On to Prisco, a senior writer for CBSSports.com. Prisco grades each NFL team's performance every week, and this week, he gives the Texans an 'A' – and devotes the entirety of the intro to his column to making a case that the Texans will make the playoffs next season.
"Watch out for the Houston Texans in 2009," Prisco says.
"After watching the Texans the past two weeks... I'm impressed. They upset the Tennessee Titans 13-12 on Sunday in a game that evened the Texans' record at 7-7.
"But it's more than beating the AFC's best team that makes me think the Texans will be ready for a major move forward next season.
"It's the play of Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Steve Slaton."
It's hard not to feel good about the Texans' four-game winning streak when reading things like these, which amount to some well-deserved respect for a team that has been battling its collective heart out late in the season with little else to play for than pride.