Why Texans are AFC title contenders

The emergence of Ben Tate has given Houston one of the best running back tandems in the NFL. Troy Taormina/US Presswire

At some level, the 2011 Houston Texans look like one of those teams that make great fodder for the annual video team yearbooks. They overcame adversity in the form of injuries to Mario Williams, Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub. Then their backup quarterback, Matt Leinart, went down with a collarbone injury. Still, the Texans pulled themselves together after a 3-3 start and won the first division title in team history.

Asking for much more than that out of a team that is playing a third-string rookie quarterback in T.J. Yates might seem to be a bit much, but after doing a detailed game tape and metric review, it's clear that Houston still looks to be more than capable of making a strong run at an AFC title.

The most obvious reason is Houston's rushing attack, which ranks second in the league with 151.9 yards per game.

The volume is impressive, but what is even more notable is how well the Texans' running backs fare in the good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA) metric.

GBYPA measures how productive a ballcarrier is on rushing plays where he is given good blocking (which is loosely defined as when the blockers do not allow the defense to do anything to disrupt a rush attempt).