Deshaun Watson enters his fourth NFL season, and he has a new contract after leading the league with five game-winning drives in 2019. Watson signed a four-year extension in early September, and it came with a $27 million signing bonus. Watson will make an average of $39 million per year, which ranks him as the second-highest paid quarterback in the league behind Patrick Mahomes ($45 million).
Other important offseason news included the Texans’ decision to part with WR DeAndre Hopkins. In March, Houston sent the four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver to the Arizona Cardinals in a trade that included a 2020 second-round selection and RB David Johnson heading to Houston.
The Texans selected DT Ross Blacklock with the No. 40 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, as they hope that the draft selections are a massive boost to the defensive unit. The Texans defense struggled last year and ranked in the bottom half in the league in points allowed.
Read Also: Indianapolis Colts Predictions and Odds
2020 Texans Draft Picks
Ross Blacklock, DT (TCU)
Jonathan Greenard, LB (Florida)
Charlie Heck, OT (North Carolina)
John Reid, CB (Penn State)
Isaiah Coulter, WR (Rhode Island)
Notable Other New Faces for the Texans
David Johnson, RB
Brandin Cooks, WR
Randall Cobb, WR
P.J. Hall, DE
Eric Murray, S
Michael Thomas, S
Notable Texans in New Places
Carlos Hyde, RB – Seattle Seahawks
Taiwan Jones, RB/KR – Buffalo Bills
DeAndre Hopkins, WR – Arizona Cardinals
Jordan Thomas, TE – Arizona Cardinals
Timmy Jernigan, DT – Jacksonville Jaguars
D.J. Reader, DT – Cincinnati Bengals
Angelo Blackson, DE – Arizona Cardinals
Barkevious Mingo, LB – Chicago Bears
Johnathan Joseph, CB – Tennessee Titans
Tashaun Gipson, S – Chicago Bears
Jahleel Addae, S – released
Notable Texans on the Injury Report
Duke Johnson, RB – questionable for Week 2 with an ankle injury
Cullen Gillaspia, FB – questionable for Week 2 with a hamstring injury after missing Week 1
Brandin Cooks, WR – questionable for Week 2 with a quadriceps injury
Isaiah Coulter, WR – placed on injured reserve with a neck injury; expected to return for Week 4
Kahale Warring, TE – placed on injured reserve for an undisclosed reason; expected to return for Week 5
Duke Ejiofor, LB – placed on injured reserve with a knee injury
Jonathan Greenard, LB – questionable for Week 2 with an ankle injury after missing Week 1
Gareon Conley, CB – placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury; expected to return for Week 4
Texans Who Have Opted Out of 2020 NFL Season
Eddie Vanderdoes, DT
Texans Offense Predictions
Deshaun Watson completed 20 of his 32 passes for 253 yards. He scored two touchdowns but threw an interception and had a passer rating of 84.5 in Week 1’s opening night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Texans fell by 14 points, and Watson was sacked four times. Fortunately for Houston, the sacks resulted in just 11 yards lost.
In 2018, the Texans offensive line could not protect Watson, as he was sacked 62 times for 384 yards. Watson led the league in both of those unfortunate categories, and the 62 sacks were the fifth-most ever in a season for a quarterback. Last season, the sack number was reduced to 44, which ranked as the sixth-most in the NFL. Also, the 257 sack yards lost in 2019 ranked ninth. Houston’s offensive line is trending in the right direction and hopes to improve even more in 2020.
Texans Running Backs: Can the Texans Rely on 28-Year-Old David Johnson for 2020 and in the Future?
After three consecutive years with Lamar Miller as the leading rusher in Houston, the Texans traded for Carlos Hyde to replace him at the position in 2019. In Miller’s final two seasons with Houston (2017 and 2018), he failed to rush for 1,000 yards. Then in 2019, Hyde ran for 1,070 yards in 2019 for the 10-6 Texans. Hyde played in his first two playoff games of his career last season. Unfortunately, both the Bills and Chiefs stifled Hyde, as he ran for just 3.2 yards per carry and a total of 92 yards in the two contests.
With Hyde now with the Seattle Seahawks, the Texans are turning to David Johnson, who gained 109 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown in Week 1. After playing with the Cardinals for his first five seasons in the league, Johnson is now in a different conference. He had a strong start to 2020 and hoped to continue to look like his old self after injuries forced him to miss 18 games over the previous three seasons.
Texans Wide Receivers: Can Will Fuller V, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, and Kenny Stills Step up to Make up for the Absence of Deandre Hopkins?
With DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona, Watson is looking for new wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb instead. Meanwhile, Will Fuller V and Kenny Stills will also be the pass catchers for the Texans this season. Third-year receiver Keke Coutee (coach’s decision) and rookie Isaiah Coulter (injured reserve) were both inactive for Week 1’s contest.
Will Fuller V (eight catches for 112 yards) had a strong performance in Week 1, as he was by far the leading receiver on the Texans. The rest of Houston’s pass-catchers combined for 12 receptions. Cobb and Cooks each caught two passes in the game. Cooks, who are questionable for Week 2, received a total of five targets. If Fuller, who missed 20 games in the previous three seasons, and Cooks cannot stay healthy this season, then Houston’s offense may have difficulty with succeeding this year.
Texans Tight Ends: Is Jordan Akins a Strong Red Zone Threat for the 2020 Texans?
Jordan Akins and Darren Fells are the tight ends for the 2020 Texans, and Akins has already made an impact in the red zone. The lone passing touchdown for Watson in Week 1 came on a 19-yard reception by Akins. The tight ends combined to catch their four targets for 58 yards, and Watson will continue to utilize them throughout the season.
Read Also: Tennessee Titans Predictions and Odds
Texans Defense Predictions
The Texans defense is hoping for a stronger 2020 after allowing the 19th-most points and 28th-most yards in the league last season. DE J.J. Watt played in just eight games last season due to a torn pectoral muscle. Although he played just half of last season, Watt led the team in quarterback hits with 21. He also tied for fourth on the Texans with four tackles for loss. If Watt can play for the majority of 2020, the Texans defense should be in for a bounce-back year.
Houston’s interception leader from 2019 (S Tashaun Gipson, three interceptions) is now in Chicago. The defense also lost CB Jonathan Joseph, who had a team-high 13 passes defended in 2019; Joseph is now with the Tennessee Titans. S Jahleel Addae was one of five Texans with multiple interceptions from last year, but he is no longer with Houston.
The Texans do have some of their defensive leaders returning like forced-fumble leader DE Whitney Mercilus. He was the No. 26 overall selection in the 2012 draft and had a career-best two interceptions and four forced fumbles last year.
Read Also: Jacksonville Jaguars Predictions and Odds
Texans Special Teams Predictions
Hawaiian kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn has the kicking duties once again for the Texans. After being a consensus All-American and winning the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s best college kicker in 2015, Fairbairn went undrafted in 2016. He signed with the Texans and began kicking for Houston in 2017. In both 2017 and 2019, Fairbairn made exactly 80 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Fairbairn was much more successful in 2018 when he had career bests in field goals made (37), field goals attempted (42), field goal percentage (88.1 percent), and extra point percentage (95.1). The fourth-year kicker is hoping that his 2020 is very similar to his performance in 2018. He made his first two extra points of the season but missed his first field goal of the season in Week 1. The missed field goal was a 51-yard attempt, and Fairbairn has begun his career 10 for 17 on field goals of at least 50 yards.
Texans Head Coach Predictions
Bill O’Brien is in his seventh season as Houston’s head coach. He has enjoyed a lot of success with the Texans during the regular season, as the team has finished with double-digit wins in each of the last two seasons. The 2020 season will be crucial, as O’Brien is hoping to prove that the Texans can perform well without star WR DeAndre Hopkins. If O’Brien can improve his 2-4 career playoff record this year, that would be impressive.
RB David Johnson can be an essential part of the 2020 Texans, but O’Brien will have to make some tough decisions if his injury troubles return. Will he rely on backup RB Duke Johnson for early-down situations, or will RB Buddy Howell take over the reins? O’Brien may even look elsewhere, as he did last season. RB Carlos Hyde was a vital part of the 2019 Texans, and if O’Brien can find consistency with his offense and defense, Houston can approach double-digit wins again.
Texans Predictions for Week 2
Week 2 will not be an easy task for the Texans, as they take on the AFC juggernauts to begin their 2020 season. After dropping the opening night game to the defending champion Chiefs, the Texans are taking on the 1-0 Ravens (14-2 in 2019) for a late afternoon contest on September 20. Lamar Jackson struggled in the postseason last year but had a tremendous game against Houston in 2019. The Texans could not do anything right against the Ravens in the Week 11 matchup last season, as Baltimore defeated Houston, 41-7, at M&T Bank Stadium.
In the contest, neither team scored in the first quarter, but then Jackson threw for two touchdowns in the second quarter and added a 25-yard touchdown to Mark Ingram in the third quarter. The Ravens scored the first 34 points of the game. The only Texans score came on a 41-yard run by Carlos Hyde.
Fortunately for the Texans, 2020’s meeting is in Houston. The line opened with Baltimore as a six-point favorite with a very high over/under of 54.5 points. Understandably, the line has moved to seven points, but the over/under has dropped to 51.5 points. Houston is a very risky bet for this contest.
Texans Predictions for 2020 Season
With the 2020 over/under for the Texans being 7.5 wins, the bookmakers think that the Texans are in for a down season. Houston has had a strong track record, and even if O’Brien’s Texans drop the first two games of the season, the team has a chance at making the playoffs.
Watson is such a strong quarterback, David Johnson and Duke Johnson are very helpful weapons in the backfield, and Will Fuller V can be a Pro Bowler in 2020. The defense led by J.J. Watt can have a bounce-back season and be an above-average defense this year. There is value with the over of 7.5 wins, but Houston’s +6000 Super Bowl futures bet does not seem worth the risk.
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