The Houston Texans were inaugurated into the NFL in 2002 as its 32nd franchise, but that was not the first professional football team in Houston, nor was it the first football team in Texas to be called the Texans.
Dallas had a franchise called the Texans from 1960-1963, and there was a football team in Houston from the advent of the AFL until 1997, when Bud Adams moved his Oilers team to Nashville. However, the Oilers officially took its team history with it to Tennessee, where it would be rebranded as the Titans in 1999, and so the Houston Texans were officially an expansion team.
A bet on the Houston Texans was obviously not a good idea during its first few years of existence, as the Houston Texans odds for success were extremely low. However, Houston was looking to emulate the success of previous expansion teams Jacksonville and Carolina. Both the Jaguars and the Panthers had advanced to their conference title games in just their second year. To that effect, owner Bob McNair hired a head coach who had experience guiding an expansion franchise - former Panthers head coach Dom Capers. GM Charlie Casserly selected Fresno St. QB David Carr given the first pick in the 2001 draft, and the team was ready to take the field.
Shockingly enough, a bet on the Houston Texans to win their first game would pay, as the team shocked interstate rival Dallas 19-10. After that, the Houston Texans odds decreased, and victories were few and far between. Carr was sacked an astonishing 76 times that season, an NFL record that still stands today. Capers would last four seasons, going a combined 18-46. Carr would last five, leading the league in completion percentage in his final year at the helm, before being released in 2006.
Houston would hire Gary Kubiak, Denver’s offensive coordinator, as its next head coach. Kubiak’s teams mired along in mediocrity, averaging 7.5 wins a season for his first five years as coach. During that stretch, however, Kubiak discovered RB Arian Foster, who would lead the league in rushing in 2010. Combined with WR Andre Johnson and QB Matt Schaub, the Texans’ offense led the team to its first two division titles in 2011 & 2012. The future looked bright – the Houston Texans odds to succeed were high, and a bet on the Houston Texans looked like a good idea.
But the team lost back to back divisional round playoff games – first to Baltimore, then to New England. In both those games, the Houston Texans odds weren’t good – they were heavy underdogs. Foster was injured in 2013, having carried the ball an incredible 351 times in 2012, and the team posted a 2-14 record, worst in the NFL.
Bill O’Brien took over the team in 2014, and immediately made an impact. The team he inherited had talent, with defensive monster JJ Watt and #1 overall pick Mario Williams anchoring the defensive line, and stud WR DeAndre Hopkins replacing Johnson as the team’s top wideout. Despite not having a top QB, O’Brien led the team to two more division titles in 2015 & 2016. However, the end result would again be the same. A bet on the Houston Texans to advance would not pay, as the Texans would be shut out by Andy Reid’s Chiefs in the wildcard round of 2015, and then get blown out by the Patriots in the divisional round in 2016.
The need for a quarterback was glaring, however, so the Texans drafted star Clemson QB Deshaun Watson 12th overall in the 2017 draft. He started six games, posting impressive results. Then, a few days after throwing for over 400 yards against Seattle, Watson tore his ACL, and the team finished 4-12.
Watson returned in time to start the 2018 season, however, and was quickly back to his electric self. He was named to his first Pro Bowl, and the Texans won yet another division title. However, a bet on the Houston Texans would’ve failed to pay, as the team was ousted in the first round by division rival Indianapolis.
In 2019, Watson once again led the team to a division title, O’Brien’s fourth in six seasons at the helm. The Houston Texans odds to advance were good, and they knocked off the Buffalo Bills in overtime to cover a 2.5-point spread. Their next game, however, was at Kansas City. The Houston Texans odds in that game? 10-point underdogs.
Many still felt that Watson could keep up with fellow superstar QB Patrick Mahomes, and some bet on the Houston Texans to cover. But even though Watson threw for over 350 yards and two scores, Mahomes outdueled him, throwing five touchdown passes, and the Chiefs won, 51-31. To this day, the Texans are the only team in the league never to advance to a conference championship game.