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Nover NFL: A Turnaround for the Texans?

I used to hold a lot of respect for Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien. He was very good with New England serving as Bill Belichick's offensive coordinator and then helped clean up the stench at Penn State.

But O'Brien has made several head-scratching decisions this season that have caused me to wonder how astute he really is.

O'Brien had Houston playing at an insanely fast tempo during September and October. Aside from DeAndre Hopkins, O'Brien didn't have the talent to go with that style. O'Brien also benched Brian Hoyer for Ryan Mallett when it was obvious that Mallett was a stiff and lacked Hoyer's professionalism and leadership.

The Texans fell behind two mediocre opponents - Atlanta and Miami - by the counts of 42-0 and 41-0 before losing 48-21 and 44-26. The Texans were four-point road dogs to the Falcons and 4.5 road 'dogs to the Dolphins.

Week 7 Was Low Point For The Texans

Getting blown out by the Dolphins in Week 7 was the Texans' low point. They stood 2-5 straight-up and against the spread at that time.

O'Brien, to his credit, realized his mistakes. The Texans slowed down their snap count by more than five seconds per play. They also got rid of Mallett.

Since that debacle against the Dolphins, the Texans have won and covered the spread in each of their last three games, including upsetting Cincinnati as 10-point road 'dogs and defeating the New York Jets as four-point home underdogs during the last two weeks.

The Texans defense has allowed just two touchdowns during the past 14 quarters. During these last three games, the Texans have recorded 14 sacks. Houston leads the NFL in third down defense. J.J. Watt is first in the NFL in sacks with 11.5. The Texans' strong pass rush should continue with Jadeveon Clowney healthy again.

Texans Getting More Respect On Odds

Oddsmakers are giving Houston more respect. The Texans have been underdogs in four of their last five games with the exception being 3.5-point home favorites against Tennessee. Houston is a field goal favorite hosting New Orleans Sunday.

We'll see now if the Texans' defense really has turned dominant as the Saints, Buffalo, New England and Indianapolis are their next four opponents.