The key to making a deep playoff run could be the defense, led by J.J. Watt, the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year.
Under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Houston finished with the league's second-ranked defense last season. The Texans once again were among the league leaders before slipping to seventh.
“We just need to go out and have fun, play the style of defense we're capable of,” Smith said. “We just need to play wide open. Playoff games are physical. We just have to match their intensity. That's the recipe. I know we have the team that can do it.”
Houston looked like a Super Bowl contender early in the season. The Texans defeated Peyton Manning and the Broncos on the road. Houston also routed Baltimore, 43-13.
“We've had some humbling experiences,” Smith said. “When the playoffs start, everyone is back to the same point. It's like a fresh start. We just need to get back to playing like we were earlier.”
An eight-year veteran, Smith signed a five-year $35 million deal with the Texans after the Cardinals' Super Bowl season.
“To get where we want to get we'll probably have to play New England or Denver one more time,” Smith said. “But first it's Cincinnati. This is going to be a test to see what type of team we are. I think we're ready for the journey, ready for the battle.”