Last night, two teams grabbed the bat and swung at the pinata. They put a dent in it. There’s a deep, purple concave bruise. But it still isn’t leaking. It’s weakened. This Sunday, the rest of the league will smash that pink unicorn in half and play in its sugary, individually wrapped organs. Before then, the masthead weighs in on what we think will happen to the Texans this season.
DESHAUN WATSON POTENTIALLY BEING HEALTHY FOR AN ENTIRE SEASON HYPE TRAIN COMIN THROUGH!
If healthy, this team is one of the better teams in an AFC which, quite frankly, is at less than full strength. I believe the Texans are a playoff team; depending on how the AFC South shakes out, I also believe they are the best team in the division.
Now with the optimistic part of the prediction over and done with, let’s be somewhat realistic. We are hoping that an entire roster stays healthy all year. That roster contains:
—J.J. Watt (has played eight games in the past two years)
—Deshaun Watson (has torn the ACL in both of his knees)
—Jadeveon Clowney (torn meniscus)
—Kevin Johnson (two surgeries in the past three seasons)
Can those guys stay healthy for the entire season? Most of them are integral to the Texans being one of the better teams in the league. The problem is if any of them get injured, the drop-off in talent behind them is extremely noticeable.
It’s a relatively simple mathematic equation for the Texans. If Watson, Clowney, and Watt all stay healthy, I think this team can win 10 games. If not, this team could crater and we will start looking at them very differently.
Until then, though...ALL ABOARD THE 10 WIN TRAIN, YA’LL.
Diehard “I Should Have Been The One To Type This But I Had To Go Up North” Chris:
I feel like I hedge on Texans predictions every year. I never break out of the 8-8 to 9-7 range. Kind of like how, you know, the Texans never seem to break out of that range unless it’s a 4-12 disaster. With only the confidence that a franchise QB can bring--even though we don’t know for sure that’s what Deshaun Watson is based on such a small sample size—I’m ready to break out... kinda.
I’m saying 10-6, which will net the Texans the higher-seeded wild card. I think the Jaguars will repeat as division champions. Like any fan with half a brain, I’m gravely concerned about the offensive line, and to a lesser extent, the secondary (specifically the corners). All those concerns are greatly outweighed by my excitement for Deshaun + DeAndre Hopkins and a defensive line that seems poised to wreak havoc, assuming health...but ALL prognostications league-wide are “assuming health,” so what does that really even mean?
So, to summarize, 10-6, wild card, and at least one playoff win. I feel much less cynical going into this season because, quarterback.
I’m thinking every blind squirrel finds a nut and eventually that blind squirrel stumbles onto the field at NRG Stadium the same way the squirrel from Ice Age finds his way into unexpected good fortune from time to time. No team has ever had back-to-back seasons filled with decimating injuries that I know of (and if you know, shut up about it). So we have that going for us.
When you look at strength of schedule, Houston has the easiest one. I figure that counts for at least two bonus wins.
J.J. Watt is DUE for a huge Hall of Fame type game. That counts for at least one more win.
Deshaun Watson might not continue to hang 30+ points on every team he faces, but he’s going to stun at least one opponent Houston shouldn’t beat. There’s another win.
Put them in the 8-8 category, adjust for injuries, strength of schedule, Watt and Watson, and we get another 12-4 season.
Houston makes it to the AFC Championship Game, but the emotional high of getting there for the first time blows too much of their collective energy. They lose a close game in a shocker that drives most of us crazy for years to come...
It’s incredible how a healthy roster of stars can bounce a 4-12 season into a championship a year later. Watt and Watson both set individual NFL records, and Houston is ablaze in celebration for their pro football and baseball teams.
For my money, this entire season hinges on Bill O’Brien’s offensive scheme. We know Romeo Crennel is going to kick the defense up a notch or two with his scheme, and we know our secondary is going to be terrible, but the defense will still be a top eight to twelve ranked squad with upside promise.
What about the offense? For the first three years and one game, BOB’s offenses were less than inspiring for a number of reasons, and it hasn’t just been QB. You don’t sign Lamar Miller and use him like he’s Jerome Bettis, for example. Last year, after he had time to implement a scheme for Deshaun Watson, things looked...different, fresh, and exciting!
Then, BOB started talking about making Watson fit his (BOB’s) offensive scheme. That had a certain level of “yikes,” but it also makes sense on some levels.
And THEN, Brian Gaine added some nice talent on the offensive line. It’s not going to all gel at once, but simply getting rid of Breno Giacomini is a tremendous upgrade of addition by subtraction. (Rick Smith was a poor GM. Who knew?)
AND THEN, JAY PROSCH WAS CUT ALL CAPS!!!!!
Which gets me back to the scheme. With what’s evolved, what we saw in the preseason, and what we know, everything is pointing to the scheme being Watson-friendly (jet sweeps, moving the pocket, Miller in space), along with more “classic” NFL type scheming. If this is true, this is going to be a very good team.
For now, I’m going with a 10-6 record. But if we see a scheme that’s as imaginative and adaptive as it was in 2017 (serious outliers from BOB’s history), another two or three wins would not be out of the question.
I just hope somebody bought BOB a copy of “Madden” so he learned about game and clock management.
A rough start to the season peaks on Sunday Night Football against the Cowboys. After a 2-3 start, the Texans streak towards the end of the season, winning five games straight games after the bye. The last two games of the season against the Eagles and Jaguars will decide the fate of the season.
My reasoning is simple and based on one thing. Does the pass rush stay healthy? If J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney stay healthy, the Texans will win ten games and will play a rock fight on an unfinished railroad against the Jaguars in Week 17. With these three, D.J. Reader, and the perfect inside linebacker combination, the Texans will have a top five run defense. With these three, they’ll also have the pass rush to give them a top ten pass defense, even if their cornerback situation is one of the worst in football. Anyone can cover someone for three seconds. Even Kevin Johnson.
But if injuries happen to one of the three, depending on which one, they may be able to skate by and hold on. If they lose two out of the three, the defense will be a disaster like last year.
On offense, the Texans are going to score less points. Probably like 24 points a game. Deshaun Watson in 2017 was an impossible to do it again, unsustainable touchdown rate fever dream. The offense probably won’t be a top five one, the type necessary to carry a corpse of a defense to a playoff spot, especially in a division that is the best in the AFC this year, even if it doesn’t mean much. If the injuries happen and Watson is still good, they’ll be a fun seven win team.
Let’s go in between the two and say 9-7. Bill O’Brien is pretty good at making that happen.
The Texans will win the AFC South, courtesy of a victory at NRG Stadium on the final Sunday of the season over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they secure the second seed in the AFC Playoffs. I’ll hold off on predicting Houston’s playoff fate until we see how the season unfolds, but rest assured that with Deshaun Watson, all things are possible.
This is gonna be a fun year.
Loyal reader, post your prediction for the Texans season in the comments below.