Houston Texans NFL Betting Preview: Strange Off-Season Sinks Odds

Posted on: September 5, 2020, 01:59h. 

Last updated on: September 7, 2020, 11:02h.

On paper, anyway, the Houston Texans’ off-season was nothing short of disastrous. The sportsbooks took notice.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is coming off back-to-back seasons of 26 touchdown passes. (Image: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Bleacher Report, for instance, ranked the five worst off-season transactions. The Texans had the worst move for trading premier receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for running back David Johnson. The Texans also had the second-worst move by paying past-his-prime receiver Randall Cobb a truckload of money in free agency. A trade for oft-injured receiver Brandin Cooks and the signing of safety Eric Murray earned dishonorable mentions.

When Westgate SuperBook released its opening Super Bowl championship odds on Jan 13, the Texans were +3,000. Now, they’re +6,000. Their odds range from +5,000 at William Hill and elsewhere to +6,500 at BetMGM.

Over/Under: 7.5 Wins

Houston has won the AFC South championship four times in the last five years. However, they’re a consensus third-place pick in the division this year. Indianapolis is the favorite following a strong off-season, highlighted by the signing of quarterback Philip Rivers and the drafting of running back Jonathan Taylor. Tennessee is right on its heels after running to the AFC Championship Game.

Houston’s division odds range from +320 at FanDuel to +355 at PointsBet.

The Texans’ Super Bowl odds opened +3,200, but have drifted to +5,000,” an analyst from FanDuel told Casino.org. “They’ve gone from +1,500 to +2,600 to win the AFC, and +280 to +320 in the AFC South. They’re still a solid team, but their price is more reflective of increased expectations for the Colts.”

In Bill O’Brien’s six years as coach, the Texans won nine-plus games five times. They’re expected to flirt with a .500 record this season. Their over/under win total is 7.5 at most sportsbooks, including FanDuel, where the bet is -105 on the over and -115 on the under. William Hill is the outlier at 8.0 (+140 over; -160 under).

The Money Man

On Saturday, as teams around the NFL were wrestling with roster cuts, the Texans signed quarterback Deshaun Watson to a four-year contract extension reportedly worth $156 million. He is a superb player. He’s 24-13 in 37 career starts, with a sterling 66.8 percent completion rate and 101.0 passer rating.

Watson is +1,400 for MVP at William Hill.

However, he’ll sorely miss Hopkins, who has 632 receptions in seven seasons. Over his last three years, he’s averaged 105 receptions for 1,372 yards and 10.3 touchdowns. The Texans traded him to Arizona for Johnson, who rushed for 1,239 yards in 2016, but had a total of only 1,308 yards in 26 games the past three seasons.

The Texans are going to have to win with Watson and their defense. Fortunately, they have the personnel to compete. The face of the defense, of course, is J.J. Watt. He had 16 sacks in 2018. However, in 2016, 2017, and 2019, he played in only 16 of a possible 48 games and recorded 5.5 sacks.

At BetMGM, Watt is fifth on the Comeback Player of the Year board at +900, and third on the Defensive Player of the Year list at +1,100.

O’Brien signed Cobb and Cooks to try to replace Hopkins. Cooks had 1,000-plus yards from 2015 through 2018 but just 583 yards last year, and has a history of concussions. Cobb’s one and only 1,000-yard season came in 2014.

O’Brien is tied for last on PointsBet’s Coach of the Year chart at +5,000.

Editor’s Note: This is the 23rd of 32 NFL team previews and the third of four on the AFC South.