Houston Texans Win Total- 4.5 (over +100) (under -120)
This is a series of articles which goes through my process of making bets on season win totals. In this article, I’m taking an in depth look at the Houston Texans. Sometimes, there is a bet to be made and other times there isn’t. The key is not to force anything. Let’s see if there is a bet to be made on the Houston Texans win total for 2022.
The Texans figure to start Davis Mills in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season when the Texans open up against the Indianapolis Colts at home. Behind Mills, there is a lot to be desired for the Texans at the quarterback position. Kyle Allen is currently listed as the immediate backup. He’s followed in the pecking order by the likes of Jeff Driskel and Kevin Hogan. It’s safe to say Mills will be the starter Week 1 given the Texans likely already know what they have with their backups. If there was another young quarterback on the roster, I might say there could be some fluctuation, but since there isn’t a bettor should assume Mills will be the starter for the entirety of the season barring injury.
So, exactly how good is Mills? Last season Mills performed admirably given the horrible situation he was placed in. Although the Texans only won two games in his nine starts, Mills did manage to put up some nice counting stats. Mills threw for 2,664 yards, 16 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, and completed 66.8-percent of his passes. However, Mills posted a 35.5 QBR which ranked him No. 26 in the NFL.
Mills did show improvement in his QBR as the season progressed. During his first eight starts, Mills averaged a 27.115 QBR. In his last five starts, Mills averaged a 45.74 QBR. This means during the last five games of the season Mills was playing just below the level of a Matt Ryan (46.1 QBR), Teddy Bridgewater (47.4 QBR), or Jalen Hurts (48.5 QBR). If Mills can improve upon his 2021 performance, and he should, it is likely he ranks somewhere between No. 20 and No. 26 in QBR for the upcoming NFL season. That is not good, but it is not downright awful either. For the sake of this exercise, we will consider Mills a below average quarterback.
According to PFF.com, the Houston Texans offensive line ranks No. 22 in the NFL heading into the 2022 season.
This unit does have a solidified left tackle in Laremy Tunsil, and the Texans spent a first round pick in 2022 on Kenyon Green. It’s fair to say the Texans have made moves to upgrade this unit, and it won’t be terrible. PFF had this unit ranked No. 20 heading into the 2021 season, so barring injuries this unit should have relatively the same amount of talent in 2022.
Last season, the Texans ranked No. 24 in the NFL in sacks allowed per game at 2.6 per game. The Texans also ranked No. 25 in average quarterback rating. This is both a reflection on the quarterback and the offensive line. To be fair, the Texans were playing most of the season with third round rookie Mills. However, this is a unit that brings back most of its core pieces in 2022. It’s safe to say, this unit should be able to gel around their second year quarterback, Mills.
Heading into the 2021 season, the Texans depth chart had Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Andre Roberts, Nico Collins, Keke Coutee, Chris Conley, and Isaiah Coulter listed at the top of their wide receiver depth chart. In 2021, Houston ranked No. 28 in the NFL in passing yards per game (194.4). Cooks was the only receiver of the group with over 1,000 receiving yards on the season, and the good news is he is back for 2022. Collins and Conley will also return as the second and third leading receivers in the offense.
In 2022, the Texans will return Cooks, Collins, and Conley. They have also added John Metchie as an early second round draft pick in 2022. The most important thing is, while this unit might not be greatly improved, many of these receivers played with Mills last season. Another year of progress with the same guys can’t hurt. My guess is there will be more production in 2022.
Their running backs also left a lot to be desired in 2021. David Johnson, Mark Ingram, Rex Burkhead, and Phillip Lindsay all factored into the running game. Burkhead led this unit with 427 yards rushing. Johnson, Ingram, and Lindsay are all elsewhere. In 2022, Houston added Marlon Mack and Royce Freeman in free agency. They also added Dameon Pierce in the NFL Draft. It’s fair to say this unit is improved for 2022 with more depth and talent.
The Texans also lacked talent at the tight end position. Jordan Akins, Pharaoh Brown, Brevin Jordan, and Kahale Warring were listed at the top of the tight end depth chart at the beginning of 2021. Akins led this unit in receiving yards with 214 in 2021. For 2022, this unit is led by Brevin Jordan, Pharaoh Brown, and fifth round rookie draft pick Teegan Quitoriano. I don’t see much impact or change from last year to this year.
Last season, the Texans defense was abysmal. They ranked No. 27 in the NFL in percentages of drives that ended in a score with 42.9-percent. This means 42.9-percent of the time NFL offenses were able to lead a scoring drive against the Texans defense. The Texans ranked No. 31 in the NFL in yards allowed in the running game which means, on average, the Texans gave up approximately 142 yards per game on the ground.
The Texans ranked No. 23 in the NFL in passing yards allowed as they gave up 4,117 yards total in 2021 according to pro football reference. The Texans gave up an average of 242 yards per game through the air. The Texans also ranked No. 31 in the NFL in yards per play allowed (5.9), No. 12 in takeaways with 25, and No. 27 in points allowed (452). Needless to say, most metrics point to the fact the Texans defense was bad last season. So, the question is, have they improved the defensive side of the ball for 2022?
In 2021, the defensive line was led by Whitney Mercilus and Jordan Jenkins at defensive end. Mercilus only played in six games and totaled just three sacks with three additional quarterback hits. Jenkins fared a little better. Jenkins played in 11 games and recorded 2.5 sacks with five additional quarterback hits. Needless to say, the Texans didn’t get much production from the defensive ends in 2021.
The starting defensive tackles for the Texans in 2021 were Vincent Taylor and Maliek Collins. Collins played in 15 games and totaled 2.5 sacks with seven additional quarterback hits. Taylor only played in one game and didn’t do much of anything when he played.
Jonathan Greenard led the Texans in sacks with eight in 2021. Greenard played in 12 games and proved to be one of the more productive members of the defense. Jacob Martin also provided some consistency for the Texans in 2021 at the defensive end position. Martin played in all 17 games and recorded four sacks.
Houston Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard missed Pro Football Focus’ top-50 list. How close was Greenard to possibly making the list? https://t.co/xuUz9EaN9g
— The Texans Wire (@TheTexansWire) July 18, 2022
This unit will look vastly different in 2022. In 2021, the starters on the defensive line going into the season were Whitney Mercilus, Jordan Jenkins, Vincent Taylor, and Maliek Collins. In 2022, the starters are projected to be Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Jonathan Greenard, Roy Lopez, and Maliek Collins. Needless to say, they can’t be much worse in 2022. It looks like the Texans may have found something in Greenard, but we will see on 2022. This unit is not star-studded and should be considered below average for 2022.
Last season, the starting linebacker corps for the Texans at the beginning of the year consisted of Kevin Pierre-Louis, Zach Cunningham, Christian Kirksey. However, it was Kamu Gruigier-Hill who led the team in combined tackles. Perrie-Louis only managed to play in nine games, starting in one of those games. In 2022, the listed starting linebacking corps as of this writing is Christian Harris, Kirksey, and Garret Wallow. Gruger-Hill is still listed as a reserve linebacker on the roster, so it’s safe to say this unit should be improved, or stay the same, for 2022. Certainly, there isn’t much room for regression in 2022.
The two starting cornerbacks in 2021 were Terrance Mitchell and Desmond King II. Eric Murray and Justin Reid rounded out the safety positions. It’s tough to judge how well this unit performed considering the Texans were playing from behind most of the season, and teams were pounding the rock against them, but Texans did rank No. 23 in the NFL in yards given up through the air. In 2022, the Texans will lose Justin Reid as he signed in Kansas City. The starters at corner are Derek Stingley Jr, Steven Nelson, with Thomas Tavierre projected as the starting nickelback. The safeties are projected to be Eric Murray and rookie second round pick Jalen Pitre.
According to Sharp Football Analysis, the Texans have the No. 5 hardest schedule in the NFL. In 2021, the Texans finished 4-13. They had wins at home against the Jaguars and Chargers, and they had road wins against the Jaguars and Titans. Out of their 13 losses, the Texans lost 11 of those games by seven points or more.
Colts (Week 1), Chargers (Week 4), Titans (Week 8), Eagles (Week 9), Commanders (Week 11), Browns (Week 13), Chiefs (Week 15), Jaguars (Week 17)
From a talent perspective, the Texans are not going to be nearly as talented as some of the team’s they face. However, they have some winnable games on the schedule. The games against the Colts, Titans, Commanders, Browns (depending on their quarterback situation), and Jaguars are all winnable games. The Jaguars should improve this season as well with the coaching change.
Broncos (Week 2), Bears (Week 3), Jaguars (Week 5), Raiders (Week 7), Giants (Week 10), Dolphins (Week 12), Cowboys (Week 14), Titans (Week 16), Colts (Week 18)
Road games are always the toughest, and it will be hard for the Texans to win on the road this season. With that being said, I’d give the Texans a chance against their division opponents, and I think the games against the Bears and Giants are definitely winnable games. If we count all of those winnable games up it comes to 11.
Okay, that might be a bit hasty. Let’s say the Texans win two games in the division. This means they have to get three more wins against the Commanders, Browns (perhaps without Deshaun Watson), Bears, and Giants. I think it’s possible, but I’m not sure if the Texans are going to have the talent edge in any of their 17 games this season.
The Houston Texans have released the 2022 schedule and there are some blockbuster games on deck! Watson returns to NRG as a Cleveland Brown, the Texans travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys and we open the season against the Colts! Which game do you wanna see most? pic.twitter.com/BPjsdbkx5U
— The Bull (@TheBullHouston) May 13, 2022
I’ll admit, I’m a fan of Mills. I’m less of a fan of Lovie Smith. However, he is probably a slight improvement over the job David Culley did a season ago. No disrespect to Culley, but he got the job in large part due to the toxic nature of the Texans head coaching position heading into the 2021 season. The Texans situation, this season, seems to be better. Their front office has had a year to rebuild and grow this roster from the bottom up. This is a wager I will take. Five wins is more than doable, and I know the schedule is tough, but I don’t think their division is anything to scream about.
According to Caesar’s Sportsbook, the Texans have the lowest win total at 4.5, and there’s some plus money to the over. Simply put, I don’t think the Texans are the worst team in the NFL. I would make that bet. I think this number should be closer to five. Take the over 4.5 wins (+100) on the Texans for 2022.