Houston Texans Season Win Total: Under 10.5

Houston Texans

Bet365 NFL betting line: Over 10.5 +115/Under 10.5 -145 (odds subject to change)
Last season: 12-4
Our pick: Under 10.5

The Texans might have worn out Arian Foster the last three years.
The Texans might have worn out Arian Foster the last three years.

A Super Bowl sleeper pick for the last several seasons, the Texans finally appeared to be living up to the hype last year. Houston roared out to a 11-1 start before the wheels came off down the stretch, losing three of its last four regular-season games — including a 42-14 debacle on Monday Night Football in New England — and then allowing 41 points in a second-round playoff loss to the Patriots.

The offence appears to be in good hands once again this year with the returns of QB Matt Schaub, RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson. But there are flaws with each of them. Schaub has struggled to become anything more than a “good not great” pivot, throwing interceptions at inopportune times and not throwing enough touchdowns. Foster has had the most touches in the NFL over the past three years and it might be catching up with him, reflected in the pedestrian 4.1 yards per carry he averaged in 2012. Johnson has been one of the league’s top receivers for nearly a decade, but age might be catching up with him. In fact, some suggest new draft pick DeAndre (Nuke) Hopkins could soon supplant Johnson as the No. 1 receiver in Houston. The Texans do continue to have solid tight ends in Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham, and their offensive line is rock solid on the left side. Houston does have question marks, however, at right tackle and right guard.

On the other side of the ball, Houston is led by 2012 defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, who some believe is coming off the greatest-ever season by a defensive lineman (20.5 sacks, 24 tackles for loss, 16 pass deflections in 2012). Antonio Smith is another quality end who allows the Texans to play a 3-4 defence, relying on the strong play of inside linebackers Brian Cushing and Daryl Sharpton (both missed much of last year with injuries). The outside linebacker positions are a concern, however. In the secondary, Houston hopes the signing of 35-year-old Ed Reed will fill the void left by the departure of safety Glover Quin.

The Texans addressed their kicking game during the offseason, bringing in both a new punter (Shane Lechler, formerly of the Raiders) and a new field-goal kicker (Randy Bullock, entering his first full season).

Houston will once again reap the dividends of playing in the AFC South, meaning two games against both Jacksonville and Tennessee. The other division rival, Indianapolis, is coming off a surprising playoff appearance and a split of the season series seems likely. In non-divisional play, the Texans will host Oakland and make trips to Kansas City and Arizona, three games that look very winnable. But Houston will also visit Seattle and San Francisco, and its home slate includes contests against Seattle, Denver and a New England squad that hung 83 points on the Texans in two meetings last year.

Which Texans squad is the real one – the team that started 11-1 or the team that lost four of its last six, including those two lopsided defeats to the Patriots? The answer is almost certainly somewhere in between, but we won’t be surprised to see a hangover effect from last season’s collapse carry over into this fall. Even with the ascension of the Colts, the AFC South is Houston’s division to lose, but we don’t see this Texans team winning more than 10 games. We like the under 10.5.

 

Houston Texans 2013 schedule

1 Mon, Sep 9
  • @ San Diego
10:15 PM ESPN
2 Sun, Sep 15
  • vs Tennessee
1:00 PM CBS
3 Sun, Sep 22
  • @ Baltimore
1:00 PM CBS
4 Sun, Sep 29
  • vs Seattle
1:00 PM FOX
5 Sun, Oct 6
  • @ San Francisco
8:30 PM NBC
6 Sun, Oct 13
  • vs St. Louis
1:00 PM FOX
7 Sun, Oct 20
  • @ Kansas City
1:00 PM CBS
8 BYE WEEK
9 Sun, Nov 3
  • vs Indianapolis
8:30 PM NBC
10 Sun, Nov 10
  • @ Arizona
4:25 PM CBS
11 Sun, Nov 17
  • vs Oakland
1:00 PM CBS
12 Sun, Nov 24
  • vs Jacksonville
1:00 PM CBS
13 Sun, Dec 1
  • vs New England
4:25 PM CBS
14 Thu, Dec 5
  • @ Jacksonville
8:25 PM NFL
15 Sun, Dec 15
  • @ Indianapolis
1:00 PM CBS
16 Sun, Dec 22
  • vs Denver
1:00 PM CBS
17 Sun, Dec 29
  • @ Tennessee
1:00 PM CBS