HOUSTON -- It seems the Houston Texans have been so regularly forecast to struggle this season some of the players in the locker room have noticed.
“Everyone has us dead last in this league, so it’s really just proving the naysayers wrong,” running back David Johnson said.
The Texans were last in ESPN's latest edition of the Power Rankings. ESPN's NFL Football Power Index (FPI) has the Texans ranked last in the league at minus-7.7. The next closest team is the 31st-ranked Detroit Lions, whose FPI is minus-5.4.
You know who else isn't high on the Texans this season? Vegas sportsbooks.
Here are five futures bets from our partners at Caesars Sportsbook that illustrate how little is expected of the Texans in 2021.
Favorite to be lowest-scoring team in NFL at +450
The Texans ranked 19th with 384 points scored last season (24 points per game), and that was with quarterback Deshaun Watson having the best season of his career, throwing for a career-high 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns. Watson may not play for the Texans in 2021 after 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior were filed during the offseason.
All three of those teams have more upside with more young talent than the Texans. While Houston might be throwing just as much as it was last season because it’ll probably be trailing most of the time in 2021, some of the offense's explosiveness after wide receiver William Fuller V departed as a free agent.
Favorite to have worst record in NFL at +250
If the Texans are thinking about what is best for their future this season, it’s finishing with the worst record and getting the top pick to start rebuilding the team.
The next teams on this list are the Lions (+350) and Jets (+750), who are followed by the Jaguars, Eagles and Bengals, all of whom are at +1200. While the Lions are expected to struggle, they don’t seem like much of a match for a Texans team that went 4-12 last season with Watson under center and a healthy J.J. Watt on defense.
+2500 to go 0-17
The Lions are the only other team listed for this bet and have longer odds at +3500. While the Texans very well might finish with the worst record in the NFL, it seems unlikely this team comes close to a winless season.
The 2021 Texans were built by signing players in free agency to short-term deals with the idea that the season will be a tryout for them. Houston will have plenty of cap space to reward those who play well this season, or those players can get multi-year deals elsewhere for 2022.
The Texans have had a much more positive atmosphere during this training camp under head coach David Culley compared to years past. There are plenty of players on this team who have had success in the NFL before, and they play in a relatively vulnerable division.
It would be a surprise if Houston lost 17 straight this season, although they’ll be firmly in the double digits in losses.
+50000 to have best record in NFL
On the flip side, the Texans are tied with the Jets for the longest odds to finish with the best record in the NFL. Right now, Caesars Sportsbook has the Texans’ over/under set at four (-110) for regular-season wins.
The Texans also have the longest odds to win the Super Bowl at +25000.
To make playoffs: -1100 no, +700 yes (longest odds of any team)
Although other AFC South teams are entering the season with significant injuries and concerns (quarterback Carson Wentz and guard Quenton Nelson in Indianapolis and running back Travis Etienne Jr. in Jacksonville), it is hard to see the Texans finishing in the top two spots in the division and making the playoffs.
Houston is +2800 to win the AFC South, making them the biggest divisional underdog in the NFL.
Speaking of the AFC South, it’s the only division not offering odds on who will finish fourth. While that could be due to the uncertainty of Watson, not knowing the quarterback’s future doesn’t seem to be affecting other ways bettors can fade the Texans in 2021.
You can also get Watson to win the regular season MVP at +5000, though that seems like it would just be donating money.