The NFL spotlight has recently been shining on the Houston Texans, thanks to what has been an intriguing offseason on their part so far. This buzz intensified after their trade with the Buffalo Bills for standout wide receiver Stefon Diggs. This move quickly positioned them as a Super Bowl favorite to represent the AFC, implying they are also a top contender to challenge the NFL's latest dynasty in the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since taking the starting quarterback job for the Chiefs back in 2018, Patrick Mahomes and team have taken over the league. Mahomes and the Chiefs have played in six straight AFC Championship Games, appeared in four Super Bowls, and won three of those, creating the NFL's newest dynasty.

In Mahomes' seven seasons, the NFL has been attempting to find him a worthy challenger. So far, there has been none to find great success. Tom Brady, at the end of his career, got the early stages of Mahomes, and as of now, still solidifies himself as the greatest of all time, outdoing the Chiefs' quarterback in his second Super Bowl appearance.

Brady was the end of an era, one that now looks vastly different from the one Mahomes has been an usher for currently. As talented as quarterbacks are now, there has to be someone close to Mahomes' equal, right?

Patrick Mahomes has bested the AFC's best so far

There have been a few who have tried to come up to Mahomes' level. There's Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who, out of the current crop of quarterbacks, has probably had the best success against Mahomes to date. The Bengals' signal caller owns a 3-1 record over Mahomes, with an even 1-1 record in the postseason, per StatHead. We've probably just scratched the surface between them, however, as Burrow's injuries have caused these matchups to stall as of late.

The most notable of AFC quarterbacks, though, is Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Allen and Mahomes have had some major slugfests between each other in their seven matchups so far. Most still recall their thriller back in the 2021 AFC Divisional Round game that resulted in a 42-36 win for the Chiefs.

The Bills took the lead back from the Chiefs with just 13 seconds remaining on the clock. Much to the chagrin of Bills fans, Mahomes, on a miraculous 44-yard drive, drove the Chiefs down the field to make a game-tying field goal. Winning the coin toss, the Chiefs then scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime to move on to the conference championship game.

There are others within the league, particularly the AFC conference, who could still vie to become Mahomes' rival and compete with him for conference titles. There's Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert, Jacksonville Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence, and, of course, the Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson. But together, they have a 2-12 record against Mahomes. There is, however, some new blood rising with the Texans.

CJ Stroud and the Texans will be the competition needed against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs

CJ Stroud and other Texans players
© Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

As the AFC continues searching for a challenger to Mahomes and the Chiefs' dynasty, a new contender may have emerged in the form of CJ Stroud and the Houston Texans. Stroud, coming off a stellar rookie season that won him Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, has quickly established himself as one of the league's top quarterbacks.

The Texans, once considered one of the league's worst teams just a few seasons ago, have undergone a transformation thanks to their 2023 draft class and key free-agent acquisitions as of late. Stroud, specifically, has exceeded expectations — not to mention overcoming a litany of criticisms — setting NFL records and getting the Texans back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019 last season.

Joining Stroud is a talented supporting cast, now including Stefon Diggs and Joe Mixon on offense, and Will Anderson and Danielle Hunter on defense. Diggs, acquired in a trade with the Bills, has provided Stroud with yet another reliable receiving target to go along with fellow receivers Nico Collins and Tank Dell, while Mixon has added a dynamic element to the Texans' rushing attack. Meanwhile, Anderson, last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, is a force on defense, wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks, as did Hunter last season, who had 16.5 sacks.

It probably wasn't difficult for Texans' general manager Nick Caserio to look around the league and the AFC specifically and realize what the competition was, or better yet, who it was. Looking now at the formidable roster that he and head coach DeMeco Ryans have put together in just two years' time says really all you need to know about their intentions and process.

Caserio and the Texans now have one luxury that the Chiefs don't, which is rookie deals in place, particularly with Stroud, who will likely break the bank like Mahomes did previously. Houston also has some experience to along with their youthful talent, too, having made the playoffs last season. Couple all that together, and the Chiefs could finally be meeting their match. We'll get our first sample in the upcoming 2024 season when Houston travels to Kansas City during the regular season.