To put it lightly, the Texans did not have a very good season in 2013. They suffered one of the worst losing streaks of all time in the NFL, biting the dust in each of their final 14 contests. Frankly, they needed a pair of miracles to win their first two games and could have easily gone 0-16. However, there are plenty of reasons to be bullish on Houston’s prospects for 2014.
1. The schedule. Houston’s schedule for the upcoming season currently ranks as the 3rd-easiest in the entire league, ranking only ahead of division foes Tennessee and Indianapolis. However, using FiveThirtyEight’s regressive predictions, the Texans actually clock in with the easiest schedule in the entire league, ahead of (or behind) the Colts and Titans.
2. The roster. Houston still retains virtually all of the key playmakers from their playoff appearances in 2011 and 2012, aside from quarterback Matt Schaub. The most puzzling meltdown of 2013 happened behind center for the Texans, where Schaub was seemingly being intercepted for touchdowns at the will of the defense. He has been replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who isn’t exactly known for being risk-averse himself. However, Fitzpatrick has proven himself to be a competent NFL QB who is capable of putting up big statistical numbers despite a mediocre supporting cast in Buffalo. He won’t have those same issues in Houston, where Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Duane Brown, and Arian Foster currently hold court on the offensive side of the ball. Superstars J.J. Watt and Johnathan Joseph will be joined by much-hyped rookie Jadeveon Clowney on defense. Simply put, this is not a roster that represents a team coming off a 2-14 campaign.
3. Coaching. The constant flux surrounding former Texans coach Gary Kubiak has now been replaced by a semblance of stability in the form of Bill O’Brien, former Patriots offensive coordinator and Penn State head coach. Kubiak was given ample time to prove his mettle with great rosters year after year in Houston, but was never able to advance to a conference championship game. O’Brien represents the turning of a new leaf for the franchise, where simply making the playoffs will not be good enough. The culture of the team has been altered with this changing of the guard.
Houston has the schedule and the roster to make a playoff run this season, which makes it very easy to fire on a few valuable futures.
HOUSTON TEXANS OVER 7.5 WINS (-150)
HOUSTON TEXANS WIN AFC SOUTH (+260)
HOUSTON TEXANS MAKE PLAYOFFS (+200)