The Houston Texans managed to go 10-6 last season and win their second straight division title. However, their season ended after a 51-31 defeat in the AFC divisional round at the hands of the eventual-champion Chiefs. Now the Texans will head into 2020 with some new faces and hopes to improve their record and make it farther in the postseason.
According to Vegas odds-makers, Houston heads into the fall with an over/under win total of 8. We’ll take a look at their offseason and their schedule before giving our official pick.
The Texans will certainly enter the season with a new-look offense. Houston’s new running back is David Johnson, acquired from the Cardinals in a trade. They executed another trade, this one for Rams WR Brandin Cooks, while also signing Cowboys WR Randall Cobb to a three-year deal. On defense, the Texans shelled out sizable three-year contracts for Browns S Eric Murray and their own CB Bradley Roby. They also re-signed veteran CBs Vernon Hargreaves III and Phillip Gaines on one-year deals, while also keeping K Ka’imi Fairbairn and TE Darren Fells in town with multi-year contracts.
The biggest subtraction, in what was perhaps the most controversial move of the offseason, was trading star WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals. Hopkins, who has been one of the league’s best receivers for several years, was sent to Arizona for Johnson and a couple draft picks. In addition to Hopkins, the team watched DT D.J. Reader and CB Johnathan Joseph leave to sign with the Bengals and Titans, respectively. S Tashaun Gipson and LB Barkevious Mingo also left to sign with the Bears, and S Mike Adams retired. RBs Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller are both still free agents, but unlikely to return to Houston.
After trading for Pro Bowl OT Laremy Tunsil, the Texans didn’t have a first round pick in this year’s draft. So in the second round, they made their first selection in TCU DT Ross Blacklock. They went back to defense in the next round with Florida LB Jonathan Greenard. Houston had one of the tiniest draft classes in the league with five total players, as UNC OT Charlie Heck, Penn State CB John Reid, and Rhode Island WR Isaiah Coulter wrapped up their draft.
The Texans, as well as the rest of the AFC South, will match up against the AFC North and NFC North this season. That means matchups against playoff teams like the Ravens, Packers and Vikings, but also matchups against the Bengals and Lions. According to strength of schedule, Houston is tied for the eighth-toughest schedule in the league, with their opponents combining for a .518 winning percentage in 2019, and the toughest in the division.
Houston faces a brutal start of the season, beginning with the NFL’s opening night matchup at Kansas City against the Chiefs. Games versus the Ravens, at the Steelers, and versus the Vikings immediacy follow Week 1. Following a divisional game hosting Jacksonville, they match up against the Titans and Packers, two teams who made it to Championship Sunday last season, before arriving at their Week 8 bye. The second half fares a little easier for them, with a home game against the Patriots and road matchups against the Browns and Bears offering some challenges. Houston ends the year with the Colts in two of their last five games, and a home game versus Tennessee to wrap up the season.
Houston may look a lot different than last year, but they should still field a competitive team. QB Deshaun Watson is one of the more exciting young quarterbacks in football, and the additions of Cooks and Cobb should help a little bit with the trade of Hopkins. The defense still boasts stars like J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus as well.
Ultimately, this comes down to where you can get the Texans’ total at. Even with some downgrades, they still play in a fairly weak division, making 8 wins seem very achievable. Anything higher I start to worry, and much lower doesn’t seem feasible barring a major injury to Watson. With 8 wins being the number we established earlier, I would take a PUSH, but feel slightly more comfortable going under than over overall. When betting on Houston; do so at our favorite pay per head bookie site www.A1PPH.com.