NFL Betting: Houston Texans with a Savage Plan

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 19, 2014 5:30 PM GMT

Monday, May. 19, 2014 5:30 PM GMT

Houston has a Pro Bowl running back, future Hall of Fame receiver, and perhaps the best defensive player in the NFL. Why aren't the Texans among Super Bowl favorites on NFL odds? A huge question mark at quarterback, a rather important position.

Savage Reality
It's really baffling what Houston did in the 2014 NFL Draft. No one could possibly fault the Texans for taking South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick. He was the highest-rated player in the draft and might be a once in a generation disrupter on defense, especially lined up opposite Houston's J.J. Watt, the 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

However, why would Houston not look at quarterback with the first pick of the second round? Perhaps the team would have, had Minnesota not traded with Seattle for the final selection of Round 1, and taken Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Still, two guys with first-round potential, Fresno State's Derek Carr and Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo, were still on the board when Houston opened Round 2. Instead the team chose UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo with that No. 33 pick. The Texans waited until the 135th pick to address the most important position in football by taking Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage.

Now, for the first time in franchise history the Texans are entering a season without a set starting quarterback. Or at least a player they think is their long-term future there. Savage will be competing against Ryan Fitzpatrick, T.J. Yates and Case Keenum for playing time -- one of those guys won't make the active roster. Fitzpatrick, Yates or Keenum would make a fine backup who could start maybe one game. But multiple games? No way.

Texans owner Bob McNair said he's not worried about the position: "Well there are 11 positions on offense and defense; very few teams have all of them filled to their satisfaction."

Coach Bill O'Brien, considered a bit of a quarterback guru, said Savage got off to a "decent" start at the team's rookie camp. Still, you have to wonder if Houston revisits trade talks with New England for Patriots backup Ryan Mallett. He really doesn't have a future there. Mallett's contract is up after this season and New England presumably drafted Tom Brady's long-term replacement in Garoppolo with the 62nd overall pick in the draft. Think about that for a second. A team with Tom Brady took a quarterback in Round 2, but Houston didn't.

Not everyone on the team is all that optimistic about Houston's future at QB. Andre Johnson, Houston's Canton-bound receiver, has dropped hints he might like to be traded.

“I just look at my career. … I’ve only been to the playoffs twice. I think we’ve only had three winning seasons,” said Johnson. “I don’t think any player wants to experience that. I think over time it can become very frustrating. And this offseason has been very frustrating for me; beginning of the offseason, I should say. That’s just kind of where I’m at right now.”

Johnson has not attended any of the Texans' voluntary workouts, and also skipped a recent voluntary minicamp. Johnson, who will be 33 when the season begins, continues to be a very productive player. He had 109 catches for 1,407 yards and five scores last year despite the Texans struggling with the likes of Matt Schaub, Yates and Keenum under center. He is under contract for three more years with base salaries of $10 million, $10.5 million and $11 million, respectively. Johnson to New England for Mallett and a 2015 draft pick?

Don't expect Johnson to put up monster numbers this year, but the team also isn't likely to trade him. Houston is likely to run the ball more than most teams,  and Arian Foster is one of the NFL's best backs when healthy. Problem is, Foster has played all 16 games just twice. His backup is no longer the capable Ben Tate but the iffy Andre Brown.

NFL free picks: Houston is the +260 second-favorite to Indianapolis to win the AFC South on NFL odds. The Texans have more individual talent than the Colts, but they have Andrew Luck. That's a big difference which could change everything having to do with your NFL picks. Texans finish 7-9; Fitzpatrick likely will begin the season as the starter -- Houston is 1.5-point home favorite at sportsbooks against Washington in Week 1 -- but won't finish it that way.

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