What conflicting win-loss projections reveal about Houston Texans 2023 outlook

Houston’s schedule is set to release on Thursday. Composite Getty Image.

The NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, and with it, the desire to fast-forward to September is at its highest. As fans look ahead, so have the odds makers with the release of the over/under win totals for the 2023 season.

When it comes to the Houston Texans the magic number has hovered around six wins. Caesars Sportsbook has the Texans at 5.5 wins for the upcoming season.

Houston’s draft day moves headlined by taking C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. did not sway the sportsbook odds makers as the Texans’ 5.5 wins stayed the same before and after draft day in Caesars Sportsbook.

DraftKings also released its over/under win totals. It is a little bit more optimistic on the Texans putting their magic number at 6.5 wins for the 2023 season. The question is, which is more likely for the Texans? Getting 7 or more wins or finishing with 5 or less?

With Houston’s schedule set to release on Thursday now is the time for fans to go all-in on either taking the over or the under. While the Texans don’t know when they will play each opponent yet, they already know who they are going to play and where.

Houston’s schedule consists of battling the AFC North and the NFC South; facing the worst 2022 teams in the AFC West, NFC West and AFC East, which were the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets; and of course facing each AFC South opponent twice.

Heading into the 2023 season, which has the biggest subject to change asterisk possible, the Cardinals are expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. Caesars Sportsbook has their over/under at 5.5 wins while DraftKings has it at just 4.5 wins. The Texans will play them at home. Let’s count that as one win.

The Denver Broncos are the team entering the new year with the biggest question mark. After heavily underperforming in 2022, Denver was able to hire Sean Payton, and it is looking to make a run with Russell Wilson at quarterback.

The Texans and Broncos’ 2022 meeting was a tight defensive battle that saw Denver pull away late. With the 2023 game at home, Houston could come out victorious in a rematch with the mile high team. Let’s mark it at two wins.

The New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are all similar in that on paper, they should have better seasons than Houston. So let’s put them all as favorites against the Texans, and say Houston can upset one of them. That is three wins.

Houston’s road schedule includes facing the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens. It’s safe to pencil both those games as losses as of May. The Texans will also play against the new-look New York Jets with Aaron Rodgers on the road. How that game goes could be decided by when it comes on the schedule. For the sake of simplicity, pencil that game as a loss.

The Texans will also travel to Atlanta. The Falcons are expected to be among the middle-of-the-pack to lower tier teams in the NFL. Caesars has their win total at 8 games while DraftKings has it at 8.5.

Houston will also travel to Carolina and that game will revolve around the battle of top rookie quarterbacks in the 2023 class between Stroud and the Panthers’ Bryce Young. Both Caesars and DraftKings agree on Carolina’s over/under at 7.5.

The matchups against Atlanta and Carolina could be seen as tossups, with the home team having the edge in both of them. For this article, let's say Houston splits those games. That puts them at four wins.

Now the final piece of the 2023 schedule puzzle is with the AFC South. The Texans play six games — featuring two games each against the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Texans went 3-2-1 against the AFC South in 2022. It is safe to assume Houston can come away with at least three wins again considering both the Titans and Colts appear to be in a transition phase after selecting rookie quarterbacks in the 2023 draft. Houston also has more talent than the 2022 roster heading into the 2023 season.

That puts the Texans at a grand total of seven wins, which is above both Caesars Sportsbook and DraftKings. It could be optimism. But perhaps the sports books are a little too conservative when it comes to Houston. Who dares to take the bet?

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Did the Houston Texans make a major mistake on draft night when they traded up for pass rusher Will Anderson?

The Ringer’s Sheil Kapadia thinks so. Kapadia makes the case that the Texans would have been better off drafting Stroud and then selecting Oregon corner Christian Gonzalez, and Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer, while also holding on to next year's first and 3rd-round picks.

His reasoning for this argument is based on his belief that the Texans' roster is more than one pass rusher away from competing, and the Texans should take more swings in the draft.

Is Kapadia right?

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

LISTEN to The Wheelhouse on ESPN Houston 97.5 or 92.5 FM every weekday from 3-7 PM CST!

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