The Houston Texans have been the most consistently slightly above-average team in the NFL the past three seasons, finishing with 9-7 records in each. What can we expect from Coach Bill O’Brien’s club in 2017? Let’s break down the schedule.
The Houston Texans’ AFC South Division will go against the AFC North and NFC West this season. The Texans won their division at 9-7 last year – finishing at 9-7 for a third straight year – and thus also play the other two first-place teams in the AFC outside of the North (Patriots and Chiefs).
Houston’s strength of schedule is ranked as tied for the seventh-easiest in the NFL in 2017 as the Texans’ opponents had a combined 2016 winning percentage of .455 (116.5-139.5). Just six games against teams that finished with a winning record – two inside the division vs. Tennessee. But according to 2017 win forecasts based on Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, the Texans will play against teams who are expected to finish the 2017 season with eight wins.
We all know it’s nearly impossible for a 0-3 team to make the playoffs in the NFL so the Texans better beat visiting Jacksonville in Week 1 – Houston opened at -4.5 on NFL odds – because after that they are likely to be underdogs at Cincinnati on a quick turnaround and then in New England.
By one metric, the Texans have the toughest schedule to start the season, facing three other division winners in the first eight weeks of 2017 — the Patriots, Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks. Overall, Houston’s first-half opponents are projected to finish the season with an average record of 9-7.
From Nov. 12 to Dec. 17, the Texans will play four of six games away from home. Houston had a similar stretch last season, with four of five games on the road. It went 2-3.
Who will be Houston’s QB this season? It traded 2016 starter Brock Osweiler to the Cleveland Browns, leaving inexperienced Tom Savage (the starter for now) and journeyman Brandon Weeden as the only two passers left on the Texans roster. The Texans were hoping to land Tony Romo but he decided to retire and join the CBS broadcast booth. Might Houston kick the tires on Jay Cutler? It could depend on what happens in the draft. This team's defense, led by J.J. Watt, should be great again. It's all going to come down to the QB, as it usually does.
The Texans are +1100 on 5Dimes NFL odds to win the conference title and +2300 to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl.