Best and worst case scenarios for the Texans in 2019
It is common practice to try and predict a team's record before the season. It is generally an exercise in futility, as the reality most teams have a range of possibilities. The low range is very high for good teams like the Patriots. For bad teams like the Dolphins, the high range is pretty low.
So what about the Texans? Vegas has them at eight wins, which seems to be right in the middle of their range. The Texans are a high variance team. If everything goes right, they could match last year's 11 wins. If everything goes wrong, 5-11 is not out of the equation. So let's take a look at what could go right, wrong and everything in between.
1) What could go wrong
The schedule is brutal this year, but the good news is the rest of the division has the same problem, save two games. Still, the Texans enter the year seemingly behind the Colts, who knocked them out of the playoffs. In the low end scenario, the Colts dominate the division as Andrew Luck stays healthy, the Jaguars improve with Nick Foles and the Titans are decent enough to make life miserable on the Texans.
Now let's look at the potential pitfalls beyond that:
Lack of improvement in key areas: The Texans addressed their two biggest weaknesses in the off-season - offensive line and secondary - but did they really improve? There is no guarantee the draft picks will work out on the offensive line, and the only veteran addition was Matt Kalil, who has been hurt the past two seasons. Kalil was terrific early in his career, but has been shaky ever since. If he can rediscover his form, he is an upgrade, but expecting that or one of the rookies to excel? That's probably too much to ask. The secondary was a disaster last season. Again, pieces were shuffled, but will they really work? So if the Texans do not improve in this area, they will clearly go backward with a much tougher schedule.
Oh, and injuries: A bad offensive line almost got Deshaun Watson killed. It could happen again. The secondary will face much better quarterbacks this year. Just being the same means eight wins tops. If Watson gets hurt, and Will Fuller inevitably goes down again...They also got a healthy season from J.J. Watt last year. If they don't repeat that? Then five wins is definitely in play.
2) What could go right
The changes in the secondary and offensive line improves those units. Watson and his offensive weapons stay healthy, giving the team its best offensive production yet. If healthy all season, they have a chance to be explosive. Defensively, Watt has a monster year, the secondary shows improvement, and the Texans match up well with the tough competition on their schedule. That is a lot to go right, but it is certainly in the realm of possibility.
3) Somewhere in the middle
So what is the most likely scenario? Right where Vegas has them - eight wins. In reality, injuries are always an issue. The loss of a couple key producers could have a significant impact. They could be a better team than last year and still have a worse record. Bill O'Brien still has not proven he can coach a team at a high level. Does it happen in Year 6? Unlikely.
The good news is it should be a fun year. If everything goes right, the Texans could be very exciting. But a disaster or something in between is very much in play as well.
Football is almost here, and while the Texans enter the season with a lot of questions, there are some potentially good answers.
We will find out soon enough.