The Houston Texans 'over' 4.5 Bet/Manifesto...(plus RC-Ross-Chris chat and the BTC Podcast Ep. #2)
BET THE CLOSE Podcast about the Texans:
BTC - "Houston, we have liftoff?"
Bet The Close
Chris shares his thoughts on the 2022 Houston Texans and the many bets he has on them including over 4.5 wins...also an unrelated Julio Jones Prop
Listen on Apple Podcasts: BTC Podcast: Episode 2 of 2022 Season
The Houston Texans are being priced as the worst team in the NFL in 2022. And why not, right? The Texans suck with a capital "S". Most people would capitalize the "U", "C" and the "K" as well. The more I dug into this team, the more I couldn't disagree more.
Some things I've heard said about the Houston Texans on podcasts…
"Don't think it's a stretch to say that this is the worst roster in the NFL."
"This is just a really bad football team."
"It's very simple, this is a terrible football team."
I heard another show make a case for Jacksonville as a long shot bet to win the AFC South, they talked about vulnerabilities of the Colts and Titans, they never even mentioned the Texans (who by the way, finished ahead of Jacksonville last season). Those are two examples, I could type two hundred. It's this indifference towards the Texans that I believe is creating some awesome value on this team and has me so excited for some big bets.
Let's start with the offense because if we can't score then we can't really count on exceeding expectations. You'll see that not only is the talent improved over last season but also note that the Texans faced a top 5 schedule of defenses in 2021, this year they are projected to face a bottom 3rd schedule of defenses.
Davis Mills. There seems to be universal optimism for Davis Mills. It's obvious that the Texans are better at QB in '22 because year two D.Mills is likely to be better than rookie D.Mills. In his rookie season, Davis Mills' ranked 14th in completion percentage above expectation and had a passer rating of 124 on throws of 20+ yards (best in the NFL). He accomplished this with 19% of his drop backs graded as 0% of his pass catchers being open (3rd worst in the NFL) and an offensive line that was, well, offensive (wacka, wacka) actually it was very injured and gave up the 3rd most sacks (44).
Now let's look at the surrounding talent…I'm not a film study expert so I embarked on a research project to learn about these players…here's the gist…
Another quote from a popular podcast "Something we do know about this team is that the OL will arguably be the worst in the league". I would argue against that point (and win).
LT: Laremy Tunsil - the most important position on the OL and the Texans have one of the best in the business. A 28 year old two-time pro-bowler who has been named to the NFL Network top 100 players the last few years, (#75) in 2021, (#66 in 2020). Some of the best pass rushers in the league were gushing about Tunsil's balance and quick feet "put him up there with the best tackles in the league…him and Trent". The guy was traded for 2 first round draft picks a few years ago. A huge part of the Texans OL falling apart last season was Tunsil injuring his thumb vs New England and missing the rest of the season after having surgery. He played only 5 games last season.
LG: Kenyon Green - #15 overall pick in this year's draft out of Texas A&M. 6'4 325. Out with a concussion for a few weeks but flashed in his debut in pre-season game #3. Plenty of complementary quotes about Green's talent.
C: Justin Britt - veteran they signed from SEA a couple of years ago and an average/solid anchor of the OL. Battled injuries the past few seasons (ACL 2 years ago, last year someone rolled up on his knee)…watched a press conference and he says he's entering this year 100%.
RG: AJ Cann - formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars (reunited with the OL coach he played for there) Cann started 13+ games each season after being drafted in 2015 through the COVID season of 2020. In 2021, though, he suffered a season ending injury early in the season and missed the last 13 games of the season. The Texans jumped at the opportunity early in free agency to sign Cann to help bolster the interior of this offensive line. Not a star here but "good enough for the girls we go out with".
RT: Tytus Howard - PFF comments: "Former first round pick split time between LT, LG and RT in his three year career but has quite clearly been best at tackle. 68 grade the last 2 seasons compared to 38.3 at guard". He moves back to the position he excelled at playing at Alabama State that made him the #23 overall pick. Moved to LT when Tunsil went on IL. Buddies with Tunsil off the field, a great mentor as they lock down the tackle positions on an emerging OL.
If you're scoring at home that's three 1st round draft picks, a 2nd rounder and a 3rd rounder starting and there happens to be pretty good depth behind them. "Copy and paste" OL rankings have HOU OL at #30. Some of the more informed thoughtful rankings have them in the low-mid 20's with upside.
Backup is Max Sharpering (former 2nd round pick who played 65% of the Texans snaps in 2021) was cut (8/30) which is a move I see as a sign of depth.
The new OC is Pep Hamilton (was QB coach and passing game coordinator last year). Hamilton was at Stanford with A.Luck, rejoined with him in IND and had success. He was fired the year luck was hurt and the offense dropped to 31st. Hamilton was the QB coach for LAC the year J.Herbert won OROY. Was with Davis Mills last season,
I don't know enough to evaluate Pep Hamilton, I just know he was involved with great years from A.Luck, J.Herbert and D.Mills last season (I think calling what Davis Mills did in 2021 great, given the surrounding cast and OL in disarray, is totally justified)
Prop Bet Alert! (The quickly became more of a prop bet funny story, enjoy but know the bet is no longer offered)
I was watching a pre-season press conference with RT Tytus Howard and a throwaway line really caught my attention. He was talking about Dameon Pierce and the run game and said "we haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher here since 2019, Carlos Hyde". Either Tytus Howard is a student of Houston Texans history or they are talking about this in team meetings! In several press conferences, Pep Hamilton has said that his job is to score points, run the ball and shorten the game. Or course he and Lovie Smith also throw in that they want to throw the ball too. So Pep and Lovie want to be a running team.
On DraftKings - Will any player on the Texans run for more than 999.5 yards (yes +550). I have to apologize, it was +700 and I hit it so many times it went to +650. The very next bet drove it to +550. The bets were placed on the same day M.Mack was cut (obviously I didn't know that but I think we can all agree it increases the chances).
On to the defense…
The 2021 Texans defense was awful. They started out bad and did not improve all year. They were 31st in early down defense, 2nd worst team in tackling efficiency, bottom 5 in missed tackles, dead last in red zone D. Below we'll talk about the personnel but the 2022 Texans project to play a bottom 10 schedule of offenses.
The Texans first 2 draft picks were CB Derek Stingley Jr LSU (3rd overall) and Jalen Pitre Baylor (37 overall). Stingley had a historic 2019 on the LSU/Joe Burrow National Championship team.. He put up the highest graded non QB college football season ever. He's been hurt but crushed the combine so that's how he went #3.
Jalen Petrie is described as very versatile, can play CB or Safety, also in the box. Final season at Baylor graded out the 4th best secondary player (with at least 500 snaps). I recently read Pitre compared to B.Baker. If he's that, the secondary can improve in a hurry. Steve Nelson is a professional CB for some veteran leadership.
Jonathan Greenard (3rd round in 2020 draft) made a leap last year with 8.5 sacks and a 13% pressure rate. Jerry Hughes, returning to play in his home state, he's 34 years old but had a 14% pass rush last season. I believe the Texans are building a pretty up and coming DL. They led the NFL in sacks this pre-season…I know it's pre-season and teams like SF and the Rams play 2nd stringers but Houston DL dominated those 2nd stringers like a good line is supposed to. Also 2022 5th round pick Ross Blacklock, who was praised in camp and played well in the pre-season was traded to the Vikings on cut down day. Not many teams are getting picks on cut down day, certainly not one void of talent like the Texans are perceived to be. After the 3rd preseason game (HOU/SF) an article from a 49ers website said that was the worst the OL has played since K.Shanahan has been the coach. Nobody is considering it could have been the opponent.
The Texans defense is ranked in the bottom of the league in all rankings. I think with the young talent and the relatively easy schedule they can play their way out of the bottom 10. If they do that will go a long way toward exceeding 4.5 wins.
When I look at the Texans relative to other teams projected to win fewer than 5.5 games (NY Jets, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston) I think I have the best QB and know I have the easiest division to play in.
I'm enthusiastically betting HOU over 4.5 wins (-110), over 5.5 wins (over +160).
I also played a bet at DraftKings for the top 2 teams in the division in any order (TEN/HOU) 22-1.
I took several look ahead lines for Texans games this season and my two favorite are…
Week 3…HOU (+3) @ CHI (also ML +135)…Lovie vs his old team
Not sure of the week but also…HOU (+8) @ DAL…battle for the lone star state
Chris shared this article (draft) with RC and Ross, and the following chat ensued about the season 'over' concept and a lot of Week 1 IND at HOU betting analysis. *Forgive any typos.
RC: Bet The Close betting expert, Chris Bilello, is proposing an all-in Houston Texans betting frenzy...HOU 'over' 4.5 wins, and 'over' 5.5 wins (+160), a daily double on TEN/HOU 1-2 in the AFC South (22-1) and he's betting several games ahead with HOU (like Week 3, HOU +3 @ CHI at +135).
RC: We're going to have a chat with RC, Ross, and Chris to see if we think Chris is nuts, and to discuss the Week 1 Texans +8.0/+8.5 hosting Indy bet.
RC: First, let's quick-hit the Texans in general. I'm pro-Houston this year, to beat the 4.5 'over'. Ross is not as excited about the Texans, but I will let him say his peace on where he is at now that he's absorbed most of the preseason and looking at the 53-man rosters and depth charts. Ross...you betting HOU over 4.5 wins? Where do you have Houston at for a win projection right now? What's your general feel for the Texans going into the season?
Ross: No, I can't get behind the Texans going over 4.5 wins. I think it's possible if everything goes right but unlikely. When I look at their roster I don't see a lot of talent. Yes they are probably going to be a scrappy, annoying team but how are they winning games? Where are the points coming from?
Every single position group on their team is a "hopeful," no real strengths. They added some good pieces this year, most notably in the secondary with Stingley and Pitre, but we're talking about a bottom 3 secondary from last year. Even if those guys are amazing right out of the gate (and rookie DBs usually aren't), it still isn't going to make this a good unit. It just makes them not completely atrocious.
Offensive line? Upgraded but still not good. WRs? Cooks is fine but not game breaking and Nico you hope grows into a decent #2. D-line? Greenard and Lopez are pretty good but the rest are forgettable. LBs? Are you excited about Grugier-Hill and Kirksey? And then we have the real key to this bet...Davis Mills. If he's as good as RC thinks then yeah over 4.5 is doable. I'm not convinced yet however. Again, I think he's hopeful but nowhere near a sure thing.
And have you guys looked at their schedule? Who are they going to beat? The only games against teams of their own level (so 50/50 type games) are the Bears, Giants, Commanders, and 2x Jaguars. 5 total games where they aren't going to be big dogs. So let's say they go 3-2 against that group. They still need to find 2 upset wins over some combination of 2x Colts, 2x Titans, Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders, Eagles, Cowboys, Dolphins, and Browns with Deshaun Watson. Lord knows anything can happen but that looks like a tall order. So we have a bottom 8 roster facing one of the toughest schedules in the league...I just can't get behind this.
CHRIS: Last season the teams with the 5 toughest SOS went 3-2 to the "over" on win totals. The 5 teams with the easiest SOS went 4-1 to the "under" win totals. The opposite of what you'd expect. It's something to look at but just a piece of the puzzle.
My position is that the Texans are better in the defensive backfield but more importantly better on the DL which makes everyone on the defense better. I think the improvement can get them out of the bottom 10 defenses. Which happens all the time, it's not a quantum leap. On offense they are better at QB and better on the OL. Probably better at RB and WR as well. The Texans were an injured disaster last year and they found their way back to 4 wins. It's a tough strength of schedule on paper but the Texans don't play any of the very best teams based on win totals 11+ (BUF, TB, GB). The 4 division games vs TEN & IND, Raiders, Dolphins and Browns are a middle category of more winnable games than the toughest on the schedule in my opinion. Even if things aren't going as planned, the last 2 weeks of the season are - week 16 Houston hosts Jacksonville (who will be playing their 4th road game in 5 weeks) and week 17 they are @ IND who is favored to win the division but would be a shock #1 seed (if the playoff spot is locked the Colts may rest starters for the Wild Card round). I like the layout if we go into week 16 needing more wins.
RC: I like the 'over' bet, I don't love it. My problem is their strength of schedule and 'youth of team'. A lot of young players on defense…talented, by not a lot of starting experience at the pro level.
Everything will ride on Davis Mills being good enough to get them to 5+ wins, which I think he can/he is. But if strictly look at the QB matchups and try and find where Houston has the advantage on the schedule…it's
Wk3 at CHI, Wk5 at JAX, Wk10 at NYG, WK11 host WSH, WK17 host JAX…just five games and three on the road.
But I think they can take down Indy once to aid the cause.
If they win three of the 5 projected QB advantage games and steal one from Indy…then they just need one other lucky game. I think they can do it but betting hard on
such a young team is more shaky than secure. I like it, but I don't love it. If they takedown Indy Week 1…then you're in a good spot. Which turns us to Week 1, Indy (-8/8.5) at HOU.
RC: What is your pro/con case for Houston (or Indy) betting this game? I think it's a ton of points to give a home team that has a decent QB and a new head coach (possible confusion how to plan against early on). I'm not betting the farm on in…but Chris how strong is this Houston play for you…and Ross, you love Indy in general for 2022 -- but are you willing to lay 8 or 8.5?
CHRIS: I just checked and my HOU +8 was placed on May 14th so I've been thinking about this game for a while! That being typed, I don't have a "lock of the century or can't lose" grade in my arsenal. I'm looking for games where I feel I'm on the 55+% of covering. My case for HOU +8/8.5 starts with the line in last year's game at Houston where the line was 10. Tyrod played almost 3 quarters and Davis Mills played 3-4 unsuccessful series.
Everyone knows how I feel about the Texans upgrades all over the roster but I also consider IND at their weakest point they will be all year. M.Ryan and this offense will be better in week 10 than in week 1. The Maniac, Darius Shaq Leonard is a superstar, he's coming off surgery and I'm not sure of his status. He may not play, he may play but also will be better in week 10 than he will be week 1 with only a few practices under his belt. D.Mills and a healthy OL is probably worth 2 points to the line…the rest is gravy. I think the line should be 6.5 (like Bal @ NYJ and Den @ Sea week 1). 8.5 just seems inflated. Can the Colts win by 10 or more? Absolutely. I just think the 55%+ play is all of the other outcomes we could see here.
Another important piece of the story is D.S.Leonard after these teams played that 31-0 game in Dec he said "before we even went out there I said if we don't shut these guys out, we didn't do good enough". Yikes, a young hungry team with players looking to prove themselves all over the field and that bulletin board material.
RC: In case it matters to anyone, Frank Reich in his four seasons as Colts HC is (0-4) on Week 1s, (0-4) ATS, and is allowing 29.8 PPG in season openers (34-30-27-28 pts allowed).
CHRIS: I saw that and checked on Matty Ice and he hasn't covered on opening day since 2015. Again, does''t mean they can't cover but they have a history of doing the opposite in week 1. I also think the Colts may (or better) be looking ahead to @Jax week 2…they haven't won there since Russia annexed Crimea.
ROSS: I love the over on IND this year in large part because they have a relatively easy schedule. I've cooled a bit on their overall team strength but I don't understand why you guys are so down on them. Even if Ryan is fading a bit he still looks like a clear upgrade over Wentz and they also added Stephon Gilmore and a legit pass rusher in Yannick Ngakoue. They've been missing those positions and have still been a top 10 defense the past two years. You talk about Houston being improved over last year and I agree but to me Indy looks MORE improved than Houston. In their two games last year Indy destroyed Houston a combined 62-3. Why should I expect the Texans to suddenly keep it within 8 points? They haven't remotely shown the ability to hang with Indy.
CHRIS: Matt Ryan fading isn't even part of my handicap. My case regarding Ryan is that he'll be in his first live game with a new team and new system after 14 years with the same team. I believe you want him week 1 vs week 8. You want D Shaq Leonard recovering from surgery week 1 vs week 8. I don't mean to be insulting to the Colts or anyone who likes the Colts, as I said, Colts in a blowout is in the range of outcomes…I just don't believe a Colts win by 10+ is the 55+% side. 62-3 is eye popping but the Colts played Houston the first game after Tunsil got hurt and the OL was shifting around…both games started by Tyrod. Nothing I see as predictive. I just think it's too many points and I'll give some examples of why I believe that…
CHRIS: Both teams play at LV…HOU +8, IND +2. Both teams play at DAL…HOU +8, IND +2.5. Both teams host PHI…HOU +5.5, IND -3. Both teams host WAS…HOU +3, IND -5. Both teams at JAX…HOU +3.5, IND -4.5.
The differences in power rating between the Texans and Colts in these games are (6, 5.5, 8.5, 8 & 8). Which begs for some research into why there is a range but even on the high end it's 8.5…most bettors I respect on podcasts are saying they are giving 2 points for home field. We'd arrive at the number I guessed before I thought of this exercise HOU +6.5…(if you flip home field that's HOU +10.5 @ IND)…feels right to me. +6.5 would be like DEN @ SEA and BAL @ NYJ. I think BAL / DEN have a better chance of scoring a road blowout of the Jets / Seahawks and the lines are lower. Anyone can feel free to disagree with any of my thoughts or assumptions…just laying out how I'd support the play with some math.
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