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The Houston Texans have held serve ranking out atop the AFC South standings three of the last four seasons. Even though Bill O’Brien’s troops won it once again last season, they enter 2019-20 looking up at the Indianapolis Colts on the divisional futures odds at offshore sportsbooks. On top of that, linemakers expect some regression to take place with a Texans team that won 11 games last year but enters the upcoming season bearing only an 8.5-game season win total. The franchise’s recent success hasn’t amounted to much success with a trio of early round exits to show for their work and the only triumph coming at the hands of an injury-riddled Raiders outfit back in 2017. This is a big season for Deshaun Watson and company. Their success or lack thereof will be a big factor in what the franchise does moving forward.
If only Houston could find a way to avoid the injury bug on either side of the ball. Seriously, it’s gotten comical to this point. For years now, Will Fuller has amazed with his big play ability. Unfortunately, the dude simply can’t stay healthy. O’Brien and offensive coordinator Tim Kelly will no doubt have their fingers crossed in hopes that he can finally buck the odds and play a full season worth of games. Should he, the Texans will possess one of the more potent aerial attacks in the league with DeAndre Hopkins and his 1.572 yards and 11 TD on 115 receptions back in the mix. Lamar Miller had himself a fine season a year ago in rushing for just under 1,000 yards and 5 TD, and he’ll be joined in the backfield by a hopefully 100 percent healthy D’Onta Foreman to give Houston a dynamic 1-2 punch out of the backfield.
The Texans have routinely marched one of the better stop units onto the gridiron under the current regime. It’s bugaboo has however been defending the pass, and that’s something upper management went out and looked to rectify by bringing in Aaron Colvin and Tashaun Gipson from the division rival Jaguars to go along with incumbents Johnathan Joseph and Justin Reid. Should it finally click for that group, we could be talking about one of the top-5 best defenses in the league with J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney all back to wreak havoc upon opposing quarterbacks. Houston might not have been able to stop any opponent from passing the ball effectively last season, but it ranked No. 3 against the run in allowing 82.7 yards per game and only surrendered less than 20.0 points per game.
The AFC South is extremely tough to get a read on entering the regular season. No team has a win total lower than eight, and the odds of winning the division look to be extremely competitive. The Colts are currently listed as the -135 favorites to take down the division, and they flat out tossed the Texans salad in last season’s final two meetings which included that non-competitive 21-7 defeat in the Wild Card round. Would things have played out differently if the Texans were at least 90 percent healthy? Maybe. It’s put up or shut up time for this franchise with the pieces in place starting to get a bit stale.