We go in-depth on O’Brien’s hopefuls
Houston Texans are currently on the joint-longest winning run in the AFC, with six wins on the spin. And despite last season’s struggles, talk is now beginning on whether Bill O’Brien’s men are real Super Bowl contenders this year.
Ahead of their trip to Washington Redskins this weekend, we look at the case for – and against – the Texans’ shot at glory…
Pro: They’re among the NFC’s best defences…and only getting better
Only two sides in the NFC can boast a better defensive record than Houston. They’ve also given up 47 points fewer than current 7/2 Super Bowl favourites Los Angeles Rams.
Powerful Linebacker Zach Cunningham has been the defensive standout for Houston. He’s produced or assisted over 10 tackles in three of his last four outings, playing the major role in nine against Buffalo Bills.
However, it’s the overall team stats which have been most impressive of late. The Texans have given up just 60 points in the last four games (or 15 per game).
Had they averaged that over the course of the season so far, O’Brien’s side would comfortably boast the best defensive record in the NFL.
It’s no secret that Houston’s main offensive strength is the link-up between Quarterback Deshaun Watson and Wide Receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The thing is – no defence can stop it right now.
Hopkins has now chalked up Touchdowns in all of the last four games, including a pair in the 42-23 mauling of Miami Dolphins last month. For context, that’s the most points the Florida outfit have conceded in the past year.
However, Houston are able to mix it up with a running game. Lamar Miller averaged a superb 7.4 yards per carry in his 18 attempts against the Dolphins, and has chalked up recent TDs against both them and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Con: Head-to-head woes against other likely contenders
There’s no doubting Houston Texans are a very different side this season to the team who finished 4-12 under O’Brien last year. But their struggles against the NFL’s big guns haven’t subsided.
The opening-weekend defeat to New England Patriots in September marked an eighth successive loss to the Pats.
And Houston also have poor records against the likes of Los Angeles Rams, and Kansas City Chiefs – who have won four of the last five head-to-heads.
Add the Texans’ terrific form to the fairly straightforward run of games ahead, and they look unlikely to falter in the regular season. Right now they’re 1/2 to win the AFC South. But they’ll need to produce on the big stage to get much further.
Match and Outright Odds
This weekend sees the Texans visit an unpredictable Redskins side.
Jay Gruden’s side have eked out a number of narrow wins lately. But those have been sandwiched between heavy defeats to Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints.
Following six wins on the trot, Houston are 4/6 in the Money Line. Each of the Redskins last six losses have come by a margin of at least eight points, and the Texans -4.5 handicap is a 27/20 shot.
In the longer term, Houston are 10/1 to be AFC champions this season. As for Super Bowl glory, they’re 22/1 to claim the ultimate prize.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing