Sean Pendergast

Houston Texans Posted In Vegas As Underdogs In All 17 Games In 2021

No Deshaun Watson (likely) in 2021 means lots of uphill battles for the Texans in 2021.
No Deshaun Watson (likely) in 2021 means lots of uphill battles for the Texans in 2021. Photo by Eric Sauseda
Hey, Houston Texans fans. Consider this post's first paragraph a warning label for the coverage of the upcoming season. With the first phase of the offseason activities now in the books — rookie minicamp came and went over this past weekend, yay! — the non-Watson coverage of the Texans will have much to do with the grim prospects of the upcoming season. Said prospects are the topic of this post.

You've been warned, Texan fan.

Even if Deshaun Watson were happy with the team and not being sued by 22 different women over varying incidents of sexual misconduct, this would still be a Texans team fighting an uphill battle to even have a winning record (which would be 9-8 in the NFL's new 17 game season). As it is, Watson is NOT happy with the Texans, and he IS being sued by 22 women, so Tyrod Taylor starting at QB it is!

Needless to say, Vegas is unimpressed with the current construct of this Texans team, from quarterback all the way down to punter. In fact, according to the Action Network, the Houston Texans are the only team in the AFC to enter the 2021 season as underdogs in all 17 of their games. (Detroit has that dubious distinction over in the NFC.). Here is the breakdown (spread on the game is reflected next to "HOU" in each entry):

Week 1: JAX @ HOU +1
Week 2: HOU +12 @ CLV
Week 3: CAR @ HOU +4
Week 4: HOU +14.5 @ BUF
Week 5: NE @ HOU +7
Week 6: HOU +11.5 @ IND
Week 7: HOU +9.5 @ ARZ
Week 8: LAR @ HOU +9
Week 9: HOU +10.5 @ MIA
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: HOU +11 @ TEN
Week 12: NYJ @ HOU +1.5
Week 13: IND @ HOU +7.5
Week 14: SEA @ HOU +8
Week 15: HOU +5 @ JAX
Week 16: LAC @ HOU +6
Week 17: HOU +12 @ SF
Week 18: TEN @ HOU +7
OK, a few observations on these odds:

As I mentioned, the Texans are underdogs in every single game in 2021.
I would say that that is really difficult to do, but the fact is that practically every season, there is a team who the oddsmakers see as inferior to literally every single opponent, regardless of venue. This season, as mentioned, there are actually two: the Texans and the Lions. I guess the tiebreaker here for "worst team in the NFL" would be the total points by which a team is a cumulative underdog during the season, and the Texans "win" the honor of least favored team in the NFL. The Texans are a cumulative 137 points worth of underdog in 2021, an average of more than eight points per game. The Lions are 121.5 points of underdog in 2021. By the way, at the other end of the spectrum, Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are favored in all 17 of their games this season.

They are double digit underdogs six times, but the opponents should give some sliver of hope.
When you're an average of over a touchdown underdog over the course of the season, there are going to be some BIG spreads. The Texans are double digit underdogs in six of their games in 2021. That's a lot. A whole lot. However, look at a few of the opponents, particularly Cleveland (+12.5) and Miami (+10.5). These are teams that, just a few years ago, were widely considered to be the worst team in football and were thought to be tanking the season to get high draft picks. (They were each also aided by some big trades with the Texans.) Now, here we are, in 2021, and both won double digit games in 2020 and are thought to be teams on the rise. Hopefully, the Texans can say the same in, say, 2024.

Don't let DeAndre Hopkins see these spreads!
Since the trade to Arizona, DeAndre Hopkins has routinely thrown shade at the Texans for dealing him for David Johnson and a second round pick (that turned into sparsely used defensive lineman Ross Blacklock). Now don't get me wrong, everything Hopkins has posted about the Texans on his Instagram and Twitter feeds has been true, but damn, you're a professional athlete. Go live your best life, and turn the page, Hop! I say all this to say that if Hopkins finds out that his team is favored by nearly 10 points against his former team in October, the Twitter fireworks will fly once again, for sure.

Where is the best chance for an actual upset?
Ironically, for a season that most expect to slide into the abyss at some point, the Texans have a reasonable opportunity to get off to a 2-1 start. They open against the Jaguars at home, a game where the Jags are a small one point favorite, and then in Week 3, they host the Carolina Panthers on a Thursday night where the Panthers are doing the traveling, making it an ultra short week of prep for an opponent that starts Sam Darnold at quarterback. A 2-1 start would keep people intrigued for a few weeks, at least. That's where we are with this team... temporary intrigue.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast