The Houston Texans drafted Deshaun Watson in 2017. He missed most of his rookie season with an injury, but when he returned, the Texans won football games. They made the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, and even won a playoff game against the Buffalo Bills. With a young quarterback at the controls, it looked like the Texans were set up to be a consistently good team in the AFC for years to come.
Things changed quickly. They basically gave away an elite wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. They won just four games in the weird 2020 season. Before you knew it, due to a combination of 24 accusations of sexual misconduct and also the quarterback's distrust with the organization, Watson wanted out and the Texans wanted him out.
Watson was technically a part of the team last season, but for all intents and purposes, he was out of the picture. Houston went 4-13, finishing with the third worst record in the league. Those four wins were more than many projected entering the season. Despite that, David Culley was fired after just one season.
Replacing Culley will be Lovie Smith. The 64-year old defensive minded coach is certainly a surprising hire in the year 2022. He'll be tasked with developing project 2021 3rd-round quarterback Davis Mills, who flashed at times last season. The results are not expected to be pretty. Yahoo's Frank Schwab ranked the Texans 32nd in his preseason power rankings, which is a nice way of saying dead last. The betting market seems to agree that this might just be the worst team in the NFL this coming season.
Houston is projected to be very bad
After winning four games in 2021, the Houston Texans open the 2022 season with their win total set at 4.5 wins. On first glance, it might appear that oddsmakers are predicting a slightly improved team, but a deeper look will tell you that's not really true.
The Texans' win total of 4.5 wins is tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the lowest number in the league. In fact, the Seattle Seahawks and the New York Jets are the only teams with win totals of 5.5 wins Every other team in the league is projected to be at least two wins better than the Texans. The majority of bettors are siding with the under on Houston, as 62% of the betting handle has come in on under 4.5 wins.
The Texans are currently +300 to finish the regular season with the fewest wins of any team. That makes them the betting favorites, slightly ahead of Atlanta at +350. Houston is -5000 to miss the playoffs, odds which suggest they miss the playoffs over 98% of the time.
The Texans are 25-to-1 to win the AFC South, tied with Atlanta for the longest odds of any team to win their division. They are -500 favorites to finish in last place in the division. Remember, this division features Jacksonville, who has finished with the worst record in football in back-to-back years. Despite that, the odds suggest Houston finishes in last place over 83% of the time.
Super Bowl odds are basically a myth for the Texans. They are 300-to-1 to win the Super Bowl, and 150-to-1 to win the AFC. Both are the highest marks of any team and the equivalent of lighting your hard earned money on fire.
A more realistic and potentially appealing bet could be the Texans to start the season 0-4. They open as significant underdogs against the Colts. Then they travel to Denver where they will also be big underdogs. The third game is the trickiest of them all, but they will be underdogs on the road in Chicago against the Bears. Their fourth game is against the Chargers, another game where they'll be significant underdogs. There's +150 odds available on the Texans to start 0-4.
Texans props and awards
There are 98 NFL players with odds posted to win the NFL MVP this upcoming season. Not a single one of them is a Houston Texan. That just highlights the level of talent we're dealing with here. Nevertheless, here's the odds surrounding some of the big names on the Texans.
Davis Mills was drafted in the third round by the Texans in the 2021 NFL draft, and by many metrics, he was the second best rookie of last year's class behind Mac Jones. He was better than the likes of Zach Wilson, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Trey Lance in many categories. Nonetheless, he remains a project.
Mills is 50-to-1 to lead the league in passing yards, which ties him with the likes of Marcus Mariota and Jalen Hurts for 20th best odds. He's 100-to-1 to lead the league in passing touchdowns, tied for the 27th best odds with Mariota and Mitch Trubisky. One category he is expected to perform well in is throwing interceptions. At +900, Mills has the second best odds to lead the league in interceptions behind only Zach Wilson.
Mills' over/under for passing yards this upcoming season is set at 3699.5 yards. His touchdown number is set at 21.5 passing scores. He played in 13 games last year and threw for 2664 yards and 16 touchdowns. Prorated to 17 games, that's 3,484 yards and 21 touchdowns. Those are slightly under both projected numbers this year, but he didn't play complete games in all 13 appearances last year and a year of growth might help as well.
Last season, Brandin Cooks eclipsed the 1000 yard mark for the 6th time in his eight NFL seasons. In every year he's played at least 15 games, Cooks has posted a 1000-yard campaign. The unfortunate news about John Metchie means that Cooks will play an even bigger role than the large role that was already anticipated.
Cooks' over/unders for this coming season are 82.5 receptions and 949.5 receiving yards. Cooks to go over that receiving number is one of my favorite season long props this season. There really isn't much pass catching talent on this Houston roster, he's developed some chemistry with Mills and he hits this mark almost every year, despite the fact he's played on four different teams already.
Derek Stingley Jr.
The Texans surprised many when they selected Derek Stingley Jr. out of LSU with the third overall pick. They made him the first cornerback drafted ahead of Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner. There's no denying Stingley's talents, but he dealt with some injuries in college and overall hadn't been able to replicate his phenomenal freshman season from 2019. Nevertheless, he's one of the betting favorites to win defensive rookie of the year at 10-to-1. Those odds are tied for sixth best with Gardner. The last cornerback to win the award was Marshon Lattimore in 2017.
Other Texans odds
Lovie Smith is 50-to-1 to win NFL coach of the year. Those are tied for the worst odds.
Dameon Pierce is 20-to-1 to win offensive rookie of the year. The fourth round running back will have to navigate a committee featuring Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead, Royce Freeman and Dare Ogunbowale. Some of those players might be cut during camp to open up a better path. Pierce has the 15th best odds to win the award.
Texans big underdogs in Week 1
After reading this article, it should come as no surprise to you that the Houston Texans are the biggest underdog on the Week 1 NFL slate.
Despite opening the season at home, the Texans are 7.5-point underdogs against the Indianapolis Colts. Last year in Week 1, the Texans pulled off an outright win as underdogs against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Getting over a touchdown on your home field in an early seasonal divisional game might be appealing to some bettors with a strong stomach, but I'm not sure I have much interest in kicking my football season off with a bet on the Houston Texans. I'll probably be boring, go the other way and include the Colts in some moneyline parlays and teasers.
If the betting market is right about the Texans, there's going to come a point this season where Houston will be getting so many points on a weekly basis that you have to consider betting them out of principle. I'll hold off on that for as long as possible.