Making sense of the extreme Vegas projections for Houston Texans

Looking to bet on the Texans? Composite image by Brandon Strange.

It's football time in Houston (horrible song) and everywhere else. So it's go time for football analysts to offer their predictions for the Texans 2022 season, often giving their picks, one by one, for all 17 games. Hey, it fills a segment on the air.

Most of the crystal ball gazers predict a fight to the finish, down to the wire, who'll come in last place in the AFC South? The Texans are headed into the season with their third head coach in three years and if they stay focused and catch some lucky breaks, they can top last year's four wins and once again narrowly escape last place. The leading oddsmakers don't hold out much hope, however.

Vegas favors the Indianapolis Colts (-140) in the AFC South by a slim margin over the Tennessee Titans (+170). Next are the Jacksonville Jaguars at a distant (+800). If you squint and look through the Hubble Telescope you'll find the Texans at +2200. There isn't a team anywhere in the NFL with worse odds of winning their division. Early forecasts have the Texans as underdogs in all 17 games on their schedule. As bad luck will have it, the lone must-see game will be Dec. 4 against the Cleveland Browns, when Deshaun Watson is free to visit Houston for his first action of the year. Will the troubled Browns quarterback be cheered by Houston fans for his five seasons of service, or will be jeered for, well, the obvious? I'm betting on jeered but you never know fans.

Most of the analyst sites offer their reasons why the Texans face another uphill season. It's the usual yadda yadda of a revolving door of coaches, too many new faces and a general lack of talent. There are signs of hope - finally a calming influence of respected, experienced head coach Lovie Smith, an improved defense and, basically, there's nowhere to go but up.

Here, though, is the most telling comment about the Texans' prospects. It comes from The Athletic, and curiously it's listed under the heading of: "If everything goes right for the Texans in 2022." Goes right?

"My model projects (Davis) Mills as one of the worst starting quarterbacks in football this season."

Gee, stop flattering the Texans. If "one of the worst starting quarterbacks" is a bright spot, you can imagine what's under "If everything goes wrong." Here's a sample:

"The team will be picking at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft and will be deciding between Bryce Young and CJ Stroud." In other words, back to square one, rebuilding from a rebuild, again.

Still, even if the wheels fall off completely, there's money to be made with the Texans.

I used to think that Flo from Progressive, the GEICO gecko and Mattress Mack ran a lot of commercials on sports programming, but with NFL Week One 'round the corner, the airwaves are filled with spots for online gambling sites ("and make it rain") and those caffeine-overdosed "sports advisors" who want you to pay for their expert betting tips "guaranteed to win" unless they lose.

"We have a documented 85-percent win rate on our Monday Night Football selections when an east coast team plays in the Mountain Time Zone after losing the week before on natural turf during a lunar eclipse! Send us your money. If you lose, don't worry, we'll send you four weeks more of losing picks."

Let me tell you about these guys. First there's the old common sense bottom line, if they're so good at picking football games, why don't they just bet the games with their own money? Then there's a trick, and I fell for this one, "Call us for a free pick on a recorded message." The idea is, if Jupiter aligns with Krypton and their pick wins, maybe you'll start paying for their "inner circle" selections.

I called, endured the sales pitch, and got the pick. It's a recorded message so I didn't have to talk to one of their hustlers in a boiler room. We're done, our relationship is over, right? Not so fast, fish. When you call for their free selection on a recorded message, they now have your number on their robocall Rolodex. You have a better chance of driving into a $39 oil change place and driving out for under $200. The daily calls start the next day. It's always a voice straight out of a black and white gangster movie.

"Hey Ken, what's up? You doin' OK? You making money this season? You need any help?"

Do I know you? Remember that song, You've Got a Friend? A visiting nurse service doesn't check up on you as often as a gambling tout service. What's the difference between a football gambling service and a pit bull? Eventually a pit bull lets go.

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We only have to look back a few weeks to remember Colin Cowherd's comments about the Texans' dysfunction being apparent through a Zoom meeting. We have to assume this was his reaction based on Sean Payton's description of the organization when he interviewed for the head coach position with Houston.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and now Cowherd is impressed with how the Texans have navigated the offseason.

He loves ALL the Texans signings in free agency, the Shaq Mason trade, and is a big fan of the Laremy Tunsil extension.

And this is a guy who admits he hasn't given the Texans any love on the show in recent memory. Until now.

ESPN Houston's Jake Asman, Brad Kellner, and Cody Stoots discuss on The Wheelhouse.

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