This Texans team is such an enigma to me as there are just so many ‘what ifs’ and I’ve got to think that if you’re a supporter of this team, you can’t be happy with what you’re seeing. Call it mismanagement or call it some bad injury luck but there are reasons to be perplexed. You’ve got a great young QB on a rookie contract, you’ve got arguably the best defensive player in the league and the face of football in JJ Watt and you’ve got potentially the best WR in the game.
So what gives? Your offensive line smells like Drake’s farts and does nothing to protect the future of your franchise star. Bill O’Brien is your coach, enough said. Your front office has done a poor job in both drafting and free agency, leaving the team bone dry of depth in all the skill positions and hasn’t adequately fixed your major weaknesses. I don’t get it. You have a short window of time here, other GM’s would be cashing in now to make a run.
Some good news for you Texans faithful, you fired your GM last week and you still have money to spend under the cap ($40m). The bad news…..at this very second you don’t have a GM to help this roster
Super Bowl Odds: +2500
Odds to Win the AFC: +1200
Odds to Win the AFC South: +250
Season Win Total: 8.5
(Lines Weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
Week / Opponent / Line / Expected Wins
1 @ New Orleans +7 (.25) MNF
2 Jacksonville -3.5 (.64)
3 @ Los Angeles Chargers +5.5 (.31)
4 Carolina -4.5 (.67)
5 Atlanta -3.5 (.64)
6 @ Kansas City +7 (.25)
7 @ Indianapolis +4 (.34)
8 Oakland -7 (.75)
9 @Jacksonville PK (.50) (London)
11 @Baltimore +2.5 (.45)
12 Indianapolis -2 (.54) TNF
13 New England +3 (.41) SNF
14 Denver -5.5 (.31)
15 @ Tennessee +1 (.49)
16 @ Tampa Bay -2 (.46)
17 Tennessee -2 (estimate) (.54)
Total Expected Wins: 7.55
Fairly uneventful outside of franchise tagging Jadeveon Clowney, but he’s yet to report to mandatory mini-camp or sign so we’ll have to see how that unfolds, especially without a GM. They also signed a couple of DB’s — Bradley Roby and Tashaun Gipson to replace Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson who moved on.
To put it nicely, the Texans didn’t have the worst draft of all the 32 teams. But let’s just say that people smarter than me rank their haul in the bottom 5. They did pick up some pieces in areas of weakness….they spent a 1st and a 2nd rounder to help their OL and another 2nd rounder to help with their secondary. Tytus Howard at 23rd overall is the big name pick but again many thought that was a reach as Pro Football Focus had him slotted in as their 56th overall pick. Time will tell.
What an absolute disaster that offensive line was last year, giving up a league leading 62 sacks. Given you have a star QB with some injury concerns, it seems mind blowing that this wasn’t addressed last summer. For the 2019 season, they’re counting on their draft picks to help keep Watson from having to scramble to save his life every 3rd down.
At times, watching this offense was pure misery. Bad execution, predictable play calling and awful coaching. Other times it was pure bliss. The Texans boast an amazing young mobile QB with a cannon for an arm and an elite WR trio led by DeAndre Hopkins along with Will Fuller and Keke Coutee. Speedster Will Fuller is the key here as he stretches the field and takes some attention away from Hopkins. This offense needs Fuller to remain healthy and that’s been a challenge so far. Management has done nothing to address this lack of depth as there’s not much behind Coutee.
The Tight End position is also lacking as they’ll be relying on Jordon Thomas and their new 3rd round pick – neither of which invoke too much confidence. Lamar Miller leads the RB’s but again this is also a very shallow group so an injury here would be trouble.
The Texans roll out some big names on D with the likes of JJ Watt, Clowney, and Mercilus but are not a complete and dominating unit. The secondary is their major weakness, giving up 260yds/game (28th in the league) as they seemed to get scorched week after week. They grabbed 2nd round pick and CB Lonnie Johnson out of Kentucky and have also signed 3-4 free agent DB’s to try and help. There doesn’t appear to be any indication of significant improvement.
The good news is that they are top of the league as run stoppers, ranking #1 in DVOA (football outsiders) against a ground attack. The solid front seven can take credit for giving up just under 20pts a game, ranking T-4th in the league. They tied for the league lead in fumble recoveries which put them #2 overall in turnover margin at +13. Are fumble recoveries luck and should we see some negative regression?
Notes & Nuggets
Based on projected win totals for 2019, Houston has the hardest schedule in the league this year. Ouch.
They are favored in 8 games, play a few prime time games and have to travel to London to play de facto home team Jacksonville. Schedule makers made it up to them by playing Oakland before their trip and having their bye right after.
I can spot six games that you can probably jot down as losses so the key to their season is how they perform in those close tight games vs Carolina/Atlanta at home and in Tennessee.
Another scheduling item worth mentioning is that four of their more ‘winnable’ games are actually their last four games of the season so keep that in mind in case they rest players if they’re already out of it or due to injuries, which we’ve seen before (Watson, Watt, Fuller)
Here’s the thing, this team likely has the broadest variance that I can think of. Meaning, the likelihood of their season win total could realistically range from 6 wins to 11. Last year they won 11 (yes, easy schedule), their win total line is set at 8.5 and their expected wins is at 7.5 (see above chart)
Even with the high ceiling here I’m just more confident of their season playing to the UNDER 8.5
If you disagree with me on this then you’re counting on this offense to remain healthy and elite, you believe the rookies will help the OL and the secondary takes a step up. You think JJ Watt and Co will continue to force turnovers, stop the run and perhaps spend some cash to add some depth via free agency. If all that happens and they avoid injuries and get some luck in close games then you should aim higher than the season win total and go try and win some big money with a Super Bowl bet or maybe even sprinkle a couple bucks on a JJ Watt (100-1) or Watson (33-1) MVP ticket.