The upstart Houston Texans enjoyed a surprisingly successful 2023 campaign, winning the AFC South on the final day of the season on the back of Rookie of the Year quarterback CJ Stroud and first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans, building blocks who will likely keep the Texans among the AFC's best for the remainder of the decade. Ahead of the 2024 season, the Texans evidently saw no reason to take their foot off of the gas pedal. They've bolstered their defense with the signings of Danielle Hunter, Denico Autry, and Azeez Al-Shaair. And maybe even more impressively, they've put a dent into two of their top competitors in the AFC.

Back in March, the Texans sent a 7th round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for running back Joe Mixon (who they promptly signed to a three-year, $27 million extension), and then less than three weeks later, they gave up just a 2025 2nd round pick in order to acquire Stefon Diggs from the Buffalo Bills. The Diggs trade was instantly hailed as a win for Houston, but it turns out CJ Stroud missed out entirely on all of the initial fireworks.

We all know how important it is to get your eight hours, so I can't fault Stroud for prioritizing catching Z's rather than staying up to date on what the Texans might be cooking up this offseason. It turns out though, what the Texans did for Stroud's outlook in the 2024 season is better than he could've even dreamed of.

The arrivals of Joe Mixon and Stefon Diggs should in theory make a Texans offense that sat just outside of the top ten in most metrics one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2024. Just look at the weapons the Texans have surrounded him with: Stefon Diggs is an absolute monster who has put together a truly spectacular six-season run of at least 1,000 yards — including an NFL best 1,535 in his first season with the Buffalo Bills. Tank Dell and Nico Collins will, at least in theory, be healthier than they were last year. Joe Mixon adds a burst to the Texans backfield after Devin Singletary took over the job from Dameon Pierce last season.

In addition to all of that, Stroud now has a full season of experience in the NFL, which says a whole lot considering how rarely he played like a rookie last year. Stroud never resembled a young QB who was in over his head. He was consistently poised, exuding confidence, and throwing darts all over the field all season long, even as his group of pass-catchers were dropping like flies and the lights were shining brighter and brighter down on him. The moment was never too big, and that must've been a relief for Texans fans, because CJ Stroud is going to be responsible for a lot of big moments in Houston.

After the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl in February, I swore to myself I wouldn't pick anyone else to come out of the AFC until further notice. But if any team is going to knock the two-time defending champs off of the top of the AFC mountain, it might be the Houston Texans.