I've spent the last four days in Las Vegas (in case you've been missing me), and over that time I've learned a few things. First, there are several casinos on the strip that are now paying 6 to 5 odds on getting blackjack, when the traditional norm has been 3 to 2. Deplorable. Bad job, Vegas.
Second, if you see Elton John in concert, don't expect to hear "Candle in the Wind." We saw his Caesar's show, and at the end everyone stayed in their seats looking at each other wondering "Is he going to play it?" The janitor then came out and started sweeping confetti. Good bye, Norma Jean. Elton isn't singing about you today.
The third thing that I learned is that the remnants of Deshaun Watson's magical six games extends far beyond the euphoria and anticipation we are all feeling here over OTA's and training camp getting started in a few months. It extends into the Mirage sports book. Check it out....
Yes, I will translate that for those of you that don't speak fluent Gamble-ese — in the eye of the oddsmakers at the Mirage, there are only six teams with a better chance of winning Super Bowl 53 than the Houston Texans. Those teams are the New England Patriots with Tom Brady, the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles, the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and their high octane offense, the Minnesota Vikings who were in the NFC Title Game, and the Los Angeles Rams who have a ton of young talent.
Then come the Texans, who were last seen stumbling through a 1-8 finish, on their way to a 4-12 overall record. During that time, there were injuries, but all those injuries did was expose how paper thin the roster was behind their core of about six or seven true star players. The offensive line is nearly a total redo, and the secondary isn't far behind. Inside linebacker is the only position where you have multiple bodies, still on rookie deals, that you can feel excited about. Kevin Johnson was a mess at cornerback. All their tight ends are concussed. Special teams are a joke.
And yet, here are the Houston Texans at 15/1 to win the Super Bowl this coming season. To put that into perspective, at the height of Deshaun-mania, following the 57-14 drubbing of the Titans, the Texans odds had gone all the way to 12/1 on some wagering websites.
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Look, Deshaun Watson is phenomenal. He is record setting, he is scintillating, he is franchise-changing. If he had a few more pass attempts last season, he'd have qualified as the NFL's leader in QBR (ESPN's SB rating metric) and yards per pass attempt. Hell, I typically use the picture of Deshaun Watson at the top of this article to remind people he did it behind an offensive line that included the likes of Breno Giacomini and Jeff Allen.
However, the Texans are a long way from being the seventh best bet on the board to win a Super Bowl this coming season. Deshaun Watson is rehabbing a knee injury, and the roster needs massive fixing. That fixing starts this week at the NFL Combine.
Indeed, if you're trying to figure out how the Texans go from 4-12 to the Super Bowl short list, the name to know is Brian Gaine, their new GM, not Deshaun Watson. Gaine's work over the next two months will dictate just how close the Mirage is to being right.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.