Texans vs. Bears: Houston Stakes Claim as the NFL's Best Team in Rainy Chicago

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistNovember 12, 2012

Manning punished the Bears for letting him walk.
Manning punished the Bears for letting him walk.Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Don't tell the Houston Texans they aren't the best team in the NFL.

Don't trot out Peyton Manning on offense or the vaunted Baltimore Ravens or the Chicago Bears on defense.

The Texans have topped them all.

With a waterlogged 13-6 victory at Soldier Field in Chicago, the Texans made their most definitive argument to date as for why they are cream of the NFL's crop.

It was a sloppy effort that included more turnovers (six) than touchdowns (one), but even playing without Owen Daniels the Texans managed just enough offense to upend the favored Bears.

Central to the Houston attack was the play of Danieal Manning, returning to the city where his career began. He opened the game with a wicked stick of Kellen Davis to force a fumble, then snagged a Jay Cutler pass for an interception.

In total, the Texans forced four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles) and limited the Bears offense all game long. Chicago was unable to move the ball on the ground, and the weather made passing an adventure for both squads.

The Texans were paced offensively by Arian Foster, who managed 102 yards on the ground on 29 carries.

Yards were tough to come by except for a two-play burst in the second quarter that set up the only touchdown of the game.

With the ball at midfield, Foster ripped off a 21-yard run which was immediately echoed by a 25-yard tote by Justin Forsett. The carries advanced the ball inside the Chicago 5-yard line where Matt Schaub eventually found Foster for a spectacular diving two-yard score.

It was a rare passing highlight for Schaub, who had one of his worst games as a professional. The Bears clamped down on the Texans' passing game, allowing just 88 net yards and intercepting Schaub twice.

The turning point of the game came late in the second quarter with the Texans up 10-3. Jay Cutler hit Devin Hester with a 42-yard pass down to the Chicago 8-yard line. Officials ruled that Cutler had narrowly passed the line of scrimmage before the throw, negating the gain.

Replays indicated that Cutler's foot was likely behind the line of scrimmage, but the officials confirmed the call on the field, wiping out the biggest play of the night for the Chicago offense.

Perhaps just as devastating for the Bears was that Cutler was hit illegally by Tim Dobbins on the play. Though concussed, he stayed in the game through the two-minute warning, ultimately finishing the drive with an interception.

Backup Jason Campbell played the second half for Chicago, but had little hope of success in his battle with the elements and the Houston defense.

The Bears threatened at several points in the second half but could never manage more than field goal attempts despite shaky play by the Houston offense.

The win allows the Texans to maintain their functional two-game lead over the Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts and removed one of their last remaining obstacles to a top seed in the AFC.

The lowly Jacksonville Jaguars invade Reliant Stadium in Week 11 but shouldn't offer much resistance. 

Houston still must navigate a tricky, though not overwhelming closing turn that includes a trip to Detroit on Thanksgiving and matchups against teams with winning records in each of their final four games.

Wins never come easy in the NFL, but it shouldn't be anything the best team in the league can't handle.