Calling all bettors! Since squandering a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs in the playoffs three years ago, the Houston Texans have gone 11-38-1 while getting outscored 1,336-953. Ah, but they have nowhere to go but up, right?
So how dramatically might they retool this season? And more pressingly, with solid cap space and exceptional draft capital, how will free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft impact their championship hopes? The following betting odds are based on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Houston Texans Super Bowl 58 Odds and Futures
Last February’s early odds for Super Bowl 57 offered clues on what sportsbooks were thinking and how that wove into the thinking of the broader betting market.
For example, the Kansas City Chiefs were the favorite (+650 odds) for this year’s Super Bowl, while the Buffalo Bills were No. 2. Not too shabby as far as year-long predictions go.
But the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers were Nos. 3 and 4, respectively — though, in fairness, Davante Adams’ status in Green Bay remained unclear at that point. The Tennessee Titans (No. 9) and Denver Broncos (No. 10) clearly underwhelmed. The Eagles weren’t even in the top third.
Not surprisingly, the Texans were tied with the Lions for the worst odds (+15000). Things only got worse (or “better” if you love excessive long shots) on the eve of Week 1, when the Texans’ +29000 odds were far and away the league’s worst.
Good news! While they’re currently tied with the Cardinals for the worst odds of winning Super Bowl 58, they’re sitting at +20000. “Room to improve,” as an optimist might say.
As we assess if bettors should lean into their current odds for winning the next Super Bowl, let’s examine a few key takeaways from the Texans’ 2022 campaign.
Dameon Pierce, Nico Collins, and Other 2022 Season Takeaways
Officially, the 2022 Texans endured their worst win-loss record since 2013, back when DeAndre Hopkins was a rookie and Arian Foster was still in his prime (when healthy).
As strange as it might sound, Houston played better than their latest 3-13-1 record suggests. For starters, highly coveted rookie Derek Stingley Jr. played in only nine games. During that stretch, the team yielded a respectable (for them) 23 points per game. Four of their opponents were eventual playoff teams, including the mighty Eagles.
When Stingley sat, the Texans surrendered 26.6 points per game vs. (once again) four playoff teams.
Now, this article isn’t solely or even mostly about Stingley. But as the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft, he’s a key cog in a multi-year rebuild. So is 2022 rookie Jalen Pitre (five interceptions) and Christian Harris. Collectively, this defense improved its pass rush, dramatically decreased opponents’ passing yards, and tied for the fewest passing TDs surrendered. That’s no small feat for a team that often struggled to move the ball on offense.
Simply put, I would argue that this franchise’s most direct path to relevance runs through its defense, at least at the moment.
As for the offense, the Davis Mills experiment clearly didn’t pan out, and I remain thunderstruck at Houston’s decision to keep Brandin Cooks last season rather than unload him before the trade deadline. And second-round rookie John Metchie’s preseason injury certainly put a damper on an offense that otherwise might have shown aerial improvement.
Still, two offensive playmakers stand out. Dameon Pierce is the more obvious one. It’s simply incredible that a rookie RB in a mostly one-dimensional system could make such a sizable impact. He broke 27 tackles in 13 games, boasting the NFL’s second-best broken-tackle rate (8.1).
Additionally, his average yards after contact (2.3) exceeded his average yards before contact (2.0). That’s not normal, especially for a bottom-tier franchise. Defenses were prepared to stop him, and often, Pierce got the best of them.
The other key playmaker was Nico Collins. Sure, Cooks posted better numbers. But coming up on 30 years old, and with a weighty contract Houston likely wants to get rid of, I don’t believe he’ll be in a Texans uniform by the end of this year. Oh, and we could discuss the recently signed Robert Woods, too. But he’ll turn 31 in April and is unquestionably on the downside of his career — his 2021 ACL tear didn’t help.
So we’re left with Collins and Metchie as the nucleus of a receiving corps that might get more help in the draft.
As a former third-round pick with two years remaining on his rookie contract, Collins is in a fascinating prove-it year. He missed three games as a rookie and seven last season. His catch rate is middling at best — though poor QB play had an impact.
I’m intrigued most about his 4.4 speed and terrific hands, which have carried over to the NFL (only two drops on 126 targets). He’s arguably the aerial X factor, with the skills to make a giant leap in 2023 if he stays healthy and Houston upgrades significantly at QB. The former is a crapshoot, but the latter is expected.
2023 Offseason Moves
Adding Robert Woods recently was a head-scratcher. Yes, they have cap space, so I suppose they’re using it to shore up their receiving corps. But Woods probably won’t elevate this offense.
This team needs a franchise-elevating QB, a franchise-elevating TE, a strong No. 2 running back, more offensive line improvements, and a continued focus on the defense. No surprise for a 3-13-1 squad. At the same time, I expect their +20000 odds to improve meaningfully — perhaps reach the +14000 to +15000 range — by May. Much hinges on who’s throwing the ball.
NFL Free Agency
March 20 Update: The Texans are in business. I’m often concerned when rebuilding teams overpay for post-prime players. But Houston masterfully reached for two in-prime playmakers to help jumpstart a mostly one-dimensional 2022 offense. The additions of Devin Singletary and Dalton Schultz give them (a) needed backfield support for Pierce, and (b) a top-eight NFL tight end with massive upside if they find a franchise-elevating QB.
This team is still likely two years away from being a playoff contender. But they’re building an offense that, along with a gradually budding defense, could hit six or seven wins in 2023 if engineer a strong draft.
In the coming weeks, we’ll update this section with breaking news on other key Texans arrivals and departures through free agency and trades, how it impacts their Super Bowl odds, and how it might inform our decision to bet on them to somehow win it all.
In early May, we’ll update this section on key Texans draft picks and UDFA signings, with an eye toward any instant-impact players who could help catapult them into Super Bowl consideration.