ALL-IN

Why Texans fans should take interest in historic odds, gambler or not

There'll be no stopping this Texans runaway train. Composite image by Jack Brame.

I'm not a gambler, well, not since I asked a certain former NFL quarterback for advice on a Super Bowl bet and he said, "Never bet against Tom Brady." So I loaded up on the Patriots and, damn you, Nick Foles, the Philadelphia Eagles and everything else that went wrong for me in 2018.

But I'm heading back into the sports betting octagon because I've found the ultimate mortal lock, the holy grail of sure things, a more guaranteed money-maker than opening a Chick-fil-A drive-through.

Bet against the Houston Texans in 2021.

The cashier's window opens Saturday when our lovable Texans open their exhibition season as 3-point underdogs against the Packers in Green Bay. Embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson is not traveling with the team. Even though many of the Houston players on the field won't see an opening day roster, they're Texans for now. I'm jumping on the Pack.

There'll be no stopping this Texans runaway train. My strategy for the 2021 season is to bet the money line against the Texans each game. I think they'll lose them all and become the first 0-17 team in NFL history. At least that's something, the biggest losers ever.

Vegas has the Kansas City Chiefs as the favorite to win this year's Super Bowl. The Chiefs are +450, followed by the defending champs Tampa Bay Buccaneers at +700. The NFL has 32 teams. Vegas has the Texans dead last at an exospheric +30,000. The exosphere is the last level of Earth's atmosphere before you enter outer space. In other words, Texans fans shouldn't make any Super Bowl travel plans.

Has there ever been a more dysfunctional team than our Texans? In the past 12 months, star quarterback Deshaun Watson demanded to be traded, then was sued by 22 women accusing him of sexual misconduct. That's like two entire football teams sacking him at the same time. They released J.J. Watt, Houston's most popular and honored athlete ever. They fired nut job coach Bill O'Brien and hired David Culley who was an assistant coach in the league for almost three decades without a head coaching interlude. He was never even a coordinator. In his defense, though, Culley does a dead-on impression of Floyd the Barber from the Andy Griffith Show when asked about Watson's status with the team.

That's just the on-field crazy. Behind the scenes, the Texans lost team president Jamey Rootes, the only adult in the front office since 2002. They fired popular and respected media director Amy Palcic and equipment manager Mike Parson. Team owner Cal McNair is ridiculed as a Hee Haw dunce, a total Jethro Bodine, by Houston media. Team v.p. of football operations Jack "Geppetto" Easterby is a weirdo. The Texans executive boardroom looks like the road company of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

The Texans' fan base has thrown in the towel. Up to now, the Texans sold every ticket to every game since their inception two decades ago. Once boasting a season ticket waitlist 68,000 deep, it's likely the sold-out streak will end this season. You want season tickets? Call 832-667-2390. The Texans will hand-deliver them to you, probably with a thank you card – a good one from the card store, not aisle 7 at the supermarket.

Individual game tickets, once precious stocking stuffers, can be had for deep discounts on the secondary market. Tickets for decent seats at the Sept. 12 opener at NRG Stadium are going for $34 on StubHub. Tickets for the Carolina Panthers game on Sept. 23 are $32 and up.

The Texans aren't doing so great as road attractions, either. If you happen to be in Green Bay on Saturday, you can sit your butt in Lambeau for only $6 on StubHub.

The Texans open their regular season at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who finished a dreadful 1-15 last season. The Jaguars are favored by 3 points. How'd that happen? Unless the Earth falls off its axis, the Texans will be underdogs every game this year.

It's a good thing that the NFL isn't like soccer in England where the worst teams in the Premier League are "relegated" to a lesser league. If the NFL had that policy, the Texans might be playing in the XFL in 2022.

COVID-willing, the Texans will play 20 games this season. I'll be contacting a Realtor in River Oaks by Thanksgiving. Let's not ignore the elephant in the room: Deshaun Watson. Betting sites have Watson playing anywhere but Houston this season, with the Jets, Eagles and Broncos as possible new zip codes. The odds of Watson not starting a game for the Texans are -3,500, meaning you'd have to wager $3,500 to win $100. Don't do it.

It's also possible that Watson could be playing for the Mean Machine next season. As they used to say on the Jerry Lewis Telethon, let's go to the tote board. There are 22 civil cases and 10 criminal accusations staring at Watson. They're all active and grinding forward.

The NFL seems determined to stay out of the matter and keep Watson off the commissioner's exempt list unless something concrete happens, for example Watson pays off the accusers or he's indicted by a Grand Jury.

There's a saying in the legal world, a talented prosecutor can convince a Grand Jury to "indict a ham sandwich." An indictment is just a formal accusation that someone has committed a crime. An indictment is not a conviction. Watson would still be presumed innocent. I'm not saying that Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg would use Watson as a political football, she's too above board for that. But Ogg does have history with Watson's attorney Rusty Hardin. They go back, look it up.

Disclaimer: my picks are not financial advice. They're for entertainment purposes only and if the Texans start winning games, stranger things have happened, they won't be so entertaining.

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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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