The Houston Texans were formed as an expansion franchise in 1999. They began play in 2002 becoming the 32nd franchise, and are still the newest addition to the league. The long-time home of the Oilers, Houston only had to endure five years without an NFL team with local businessman Bob McNair spearheading a charge to bring the league back to the city. The have had only one home, NRG Stadium, also built in 2002.
While they have no championships to their name yet, the Texans have had a fair amount of success in their short time in the league. They have spent their entire tenure in the AFC South division and have six division titles, including three out of the past four seasons. They are also the first expansion team to win their first game since Minnesota did it way back in 1961. While they have reached the playoffs six times, they have never made it past the divisional round.
After the passing of original owner and founder, Bob McNair, his wife Janice assumed control of the team. The team president is Jamey Rootes, formerly of Major League Soccer. Bill O’Brien is the team’s general manager.
O’Brien also serves as head coach, and will be entering his seventh year with the team. Tim Kelly was promoted from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator last season, and will also take on the QBs coach responsibilities this year. O’Brien will try his third defensive coordinator in Anthony Weaver for the upcoming season. He previously coached the defensive line.
Being a fairly new team, the Texans currently don’t have any hall of famers to their credit. Star defensive back Ed Reed did play one season in Houston on his way to enshrinement, but obviously went in as a Baltimore Raven. Down the road, a few Texans will undoubtedly make their way in, most would agree that once he retires and becomes eligible, J.J. Watt should be a lock to join the Hall.
In this spring’s draft, Houston was once again without a first round pick due to earlier trades. When they finally did get a chance to select a player, they opted for TCU defensive tackle Ross Blaylock at pick number 40. With only a few more picks, and all on day three, they filled in some depth spots with a linebacker, an offensive lineman, a cornerback and finally a wide receiver.
The Texans will go into the season for the first time since 2012 without star wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. After trading him to the Arizona Cardinals, they attempted to fill out the receiving corps with quantity by adding Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. Running back David Johnson will get a fresh start in Houston after losing carries to Kenyan Drake in Arizona. He was part of the Hopkins trade and looks to be the starter out of the backfield this season. While the rest of the offense saw some big changes, the quarterback position remained steady, with dynamic play maker Deshaun Watson leading the offense for his fourth season. The defense is starting to show some age, but will still be a force with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus on the edges and hopefully healthy all year.
With Tennessee reaching the conference title game last season and Indianapolis adding a veteran QB in Phillip Rivers, Houston is only the third favorite and priced at +350 to repeat as AFC South division champions. With the stiff competition in the AFC, DraftKings sports book lists them at 50/1 to win the Super Bowl and 25/1 to reach it. Their regular season win total is set at 7.5 wins with he over priced at -104, the under at -115. You can also bet them to make the playoffs at +144 (or to miss them at -177).
Houston Texans Betting Preview
The Houston Texans take a lot of heat for not winning in the playoffs, but they have won the AFC South in four of the last five seasons, including last year. Even though many have questioned their moves this offseason there is no reason to think they can't be in the thick of it again this season.
Houston is led by one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Deshaun Watson. Just before the season started they gave him a massive new contract and sometimes that can be a curse in terms of expectations. Win or lose, I think Watson will continue to play well, even though he has a new cast of characters around him.
Key Offseason Moves:
Brandin Cooks WR - A speedy and effective player, but one with injury concerns.
David Johnson RB - Had one monster season in Arizona, but has struggles with injuries thereafter - acquired in Hopkins deal.
Eric Muray S - Acquired to be a new started in the secondary, replacing Tashaun Gipson.
DeAndre Hopkins WR - One of the most productive receivers in the league and Watson's top target (traded).
Carlos Hyde RB - Last year's leading rusher with 1070 yards, a real banger.
Jonathan Joseph CB - One of the longest standing members of the team and defensive leader.
Top Draft picks:
Ross Blacklock DT - Their top choice, though he was a second rounder. He is expected to start.
Jonathan Greenhard LB - A depth player with an SEC pedigree (Florida).
Charlie Heck OT - An offensive lineman from North Carolina who will be a reserve to start.
Top Player Profiles
QB Deshaun Watson - Watson is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league, blessed with a strong arm and an amazing ability to athletically extend plays. He is often one of the lead guys on the highlight reel each Sunday, but he is also super productive, more than 3800 yards passing last season. In terms of props you can get him at 4099.5 yards or 27.5 touchdowns, both of which are solid achievable numbers. You can also get him at +1600 for the MVP. Those are all interesting bets with the yardage and TDs at -110 because they are much more probable, but if Watson leads the team back to the playoffs I can see him taking some personal hardware too.
DE JJ Watt - When healthy Watt has been one of the best defensive players in the league, dominating in a way that few players have - he has three defensive player of the year trophies to prove it. He missed half of last season though and this will be his tenth season in the league so nothing is assured. In an interesting twist, his odds to win the ward this season are just a little higher than his brother TJ who plays for Pittsburgh. Watt is as high as +2100 to win the honor this season. The payoff is there but his health is hard to get over for this one. I would pass here.
RB David Johnson - The Texans acquired Johnson looking for him to be healthy and get back to his peak dual threat days with Arizona. In 2016, he had more thn 2100 yards combined rushing and receiving. The next season he was hurt in the first game and he has basically never recovered. For this year I am eyeballing a combined total of just 1174.5 yards rushing and receiving. That implies pretty good health and productivity but he doesn't have to set the world on fire to best it. I think the total is very doable and a nice correlated play if you are believing in this team in general.
Houston Texans Team Odds
Win Total: 7.5
The Texans are not a top contender for the Super Bowl this season, but this is a total they have eclipsed four times in the past five seasons as they have won those division titles. They won 10 games a year ago and even though they have made some questionable moves there is a winning core in Houston. I am not seeing them sliding to being the sub .500 team that going under this number would suggest. The hard part might be the waiting on this one. They could easily start 0-3 or 1-4 but the back half of their schedule is much lighter. Plus you can hedge off that number if you want.
Odds to win AFC South: +320
This a bet I like a lot. It might be a minority opinion but I do not see a huge gap between the Texans and the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans, who have much lower odds. They are about the same to me, but you can get Houston with triple the payoff and the history of winning. In most divisions that third place team looks like a stretch but not here. This might be the best non favorite division play on the board this season.
Odds to win Super Bowl: +5500
The Texans are nobody's Super Bowl favorite but this is actually a decent lottery ticket bet. I say that because this is a team with a pretty good path to the playoffs and one of the best quarterbacks in the game, that is a pretty good combination. They do seem likely to get off to a slow start though so you might be able to get even better odds if you are patient. They are taking on the defending champs in week one and that is likely a loss. Maybe wait to see how they play, win or lose, and then go for it. If you like what you see it could give you more confidence, if not you can just pocket the money. If they win you will lose a little value but not a ton.
The Texans have been one of the most talked about teams all offseason. It started with rumblings about Watson being unhappy, then there was the shocking trade and now the Watson contract extension. Success this season hinges more on the defense for me though as I am a big believer in Watson and his ability to elevate a team. We saw it in in college and we have seen it in the NFL too. Houston was 28th in total defense a year ago though, a number that has to go up for them to achieve any real team success. That means a healthy JJ Watt and improvement all the way around. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is going to be under the gun early too with KC in week one. Per the above I think we have to be patient with this Houston team. The matchups are not great early so rather than getting sucked into some bad bets, use those games to create value later on, like when they go to Tennessee in week 6. They are likely to be underdogs in that spot and I like them to win it outright. The opportunities are there if we let them come to us with this team. All the Watson props are very favorable too.