Just two years ago, the Houston Texans finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, beat the Buffalo Bills in a wild-card game and jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the divisional round at Kansas City. It looked like a team with a bright future under star quarterback Deshaun Watson. However, not much has gone right since and Watson may never play for the Texans again. Houston is the +175 favorite on the NFL odds to finish with the worst regular-season record in 2021 – remember, it’s a 17-game season now.
NFL Betting Odds Analysis 2021
Last year, Houston slipped to 4-12. The Texans ran 620 offensive plays while trailing (eighth most in the league) and were losing at halftime in 10 of their 16 games in 2020. Houston also trailed for an average of 32 minutes and 39 seconds per game in 2020 — the sixth most in the NFL –
Watson is dealing with more than 20 civil lawsuits and also under investigation by the Houston police department for allegations of sexual assault. The NFL also is investigating and it seems a lock that Watson is eventually placed Commissioner’s Exempt List to start the season. It would be a HUGE upset if he plays in 2021 at all and an even bigger one if he ever plays in Houston – he demanded a trade before all this off-field stuff broke around him. Watson won’t be deposed until Feb. 22, 2022.
Even if Watson lands on the Commissioner’s Exempt list this season, he will receive his full salary. He’s scheduled to make $10.540 million and he gets paid for each game he’s on the exempt list. The Texans could fine him for missing training camp, but they can’t void the guarantees until his contract until he gets a ruling.
Watson led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards and posted a career-high passer rating of 112.4 in 2020. He set several franchise records last season and became the only player in NFL history with at least 100 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns in his first four seasons.
Veteran journeyman Tyrod Taylor should open the season as the starting QB. After spending the last two seasons with the Chargers, Taylor is reuniting with his former quarterback coach David Culley — the Texans’ first-year coach. Taylor played under Culley during his final season as the starting quarterback with the Buffalo Bills in 2017. While leading the Bills to a 9-7 record that year, Taylor threw for 2,799 yards and 14 touchdowns that season.
However, the Texans figure to give third-round rookie Davis Mills a look at some point. He was the No. 67 overall pick out of Stanford – that was Houston’s first pick in the entire 2021 draft due to trades. Mills started 11 games at Stanford, throwing 18 touchdowns over two seasons. He was a highly touted recruit out of high school who dealt with knee injuries and wasn’t healthy enough to compete to be Stanford’s starter until his third season.
That Culley was hired as the head coach was a shock. Not only is he 65 years old, but was never even a coordinator in his 27 previous NFL campaigns. Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said he has to do “a better job calling more runs” in 2021. Kelly and Culley bemoaned the Texans finishing 31st in rush attempts and rushing yards last season, saying it would be an emphasis this season to establish the run whenever possible.
Of course, Houston also lost the best defensive player in franchise history this offseason in JJ Watt, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The sides agreed to mutually part ways after 10 seasons. In his decade in Houston, Watt compiled five first-team All-Pro honors and five Pro Bowls. Twice he led the NFL in sacks, compiling 20.5 in 2012 and 17.5 in 2015. His 101 career sacks placed him 31st all-time. He’s now with the Arizona Cardinals.
It’s quite possible that Houston is an underdog in every single game. Consider that the Texans are 2.5-point underdogs for Week 1 at home vs. Jacksonville, which enters on a franchise-record 15-game losing streak. That earned the Jaguars the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and the chance to take franchise QB Trevor Lawrence.
If Houston finishes with the worst record this year and gets the top pick in 2022, expect it to take Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. The Detroit Lions are the +300 second-favorites to finish with the worst 2021 record. Houston and Detroit sadly don’t play one another.
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