ALL-IN

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

Texans Deshaun Watson
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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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

In a week full of mostly Hurricane Beryl-related bad news, the Astros organization had some discouraging news of their own when manager Joe Espada told the media that Lance McCullers has been shut down from pitching after his arm did not respond well to his latest bullpen session. The team says they are "formulating a plan for what's next."

Another Astros starter making his way back from injury is HOF-bound Justin Verlander. Verlander has been on the IL since June 16th with neck discomfort and, while there was initial hope that JV would only miss a start, his status has become increasingly murky as he is still apparently not close to returning.

Shifting from the health questions of the starters to the performance questions of the bullpen, some Houston fans have voiced concern via social media that Astros big-ticket 9th inning pitcher Josh Hader is not looking like a "shut-down" closer. Hader gave up more home runs in the first week of July (3) as he did the entire month of June (2).

In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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