Will a Tough Schedule Keep the Texans From Getting to 10 Wins After Last Year's Breakout?

Scott Edwards Jr.
Scott Edwards Jr.@ScottEdwardsJr

No team surprised in the NFL more than the Houston Texans did last season as Houston finished with a 10-7 record and won the AFC South for the first time since 2019.

The emergence of C.J. Stroud in his rookie year brought the Texans from a rebuilding team to a Super Bowl threat. Heading into 2023, Houston's win total was 6.5 (with plus-money odds on the over). Now, Houston owns the ninth-shortest Super Bowl odds (+1600).

After getting a Wild Card win over the Cleveland Browns and making it to the Divisional Round, Houston was aggressive this offseason on both sides of the ball, looking to maximize this window with Stroud on a rookie deal and a second-year head coach in DeMeco Ryans who pressed all the right buttons in Year 1.

After a year of success and some headline-grabbing offseason moves, the Texans' expectations are through the roof from fans and pundits alike.

Let's dive into the Texans' 9.5-win total via NFL win totals on FanDuel Sportsbook and see what Houston may have in store for 2024.

All NFL odds via FanDuel Sportsbook, and they may change after the article is published.

Houston Texans 2024 Win Total Odds

Texans Over/Under 9.5 Wins

  • Over: -150
  • Under: +122

Odds to Make the Playoffs: -188
Odds to Win the AFC South: +105
Odds to Win the AFC: +850
Super Bowl Odds: +1600 (9th-best)

Why Houston Could Win Over 9.5 Games

  • C.J. Stroud Cements His Status as a Legit MVP Contender
  • Improved Offense
  • Revamped Defense Led by Danielle Hunter

The Texans are coming off a season we're they won 10 games. Many of those, mind you, they weren't expected to win entering the season.

Speeding up the rebuild has left Houston in an interesting spot, a spot they haven't been in for quite some time -- division favorites.

Houston is listed at +105 odds to win the AFC South and has leapfrogged the Jacksonville Jaguars as the team to beat in the division. The AFC South can be Houston's again in 2024, and the Texans can do even more as they have the fifth-shortest odds to win the AFC (+850).

A lot of their success will depend on the aforementioned Stroud. Stroud was transcendent as a rookie, exceeding any and all expectations. The 22-year-old threw for 4,108 passing yards and 23 touchdowns with just 5 interceptions. He ranked second among all quarterbacks in adjusted yards per attempt (8.7).

Stroud's connection with Tank Dell -- who ended with 709 yards and 7 scores in just 11 games -- was a special one prior to Dell's injury. Stroud also connected plenty with Nico Collins en route to Collins putting up 1,297 receiving yards in a breakout campaign. Collins' 86.5 receiving yards per game were the seventh-most among all wideouts.

Entering his sophomore season, Stroud will need to follow up his dazzling rookie effort with a superb Year 2 if Houston is to reach 10 wins, and it sure seems like he's fully capable of doing just that -- especially after what the Texans did this offseason.

In addition to re-signing tight end Dalton Schultz and receiver Noah Brown, Houston made big splashes by bringing in running back Joe Mixon and wideout Stefon Diggs, adding two top-notch weapons to an already stout offense. The weak spot for the Texans' offense last year was running the ball as they ranked fifth-worst in yards per carry. Mixon and improved offensive-line play can help the Texans' ground game.

Then there's the defense -- which underwent plenty of changes in the offseason, as well. After Houston gave up the sixth-most net yards per pass attempt (6.5), they needed some defensive reinforcements, and they secured just that.

The biggest move was the signing of Danielle Hunter, who comes over from the Minnesota Vikings. Hunter is a four-time Pro Bowler with five seasons of double-digit sacks. He's coming off his best season yet after recording 16.5 sacks in 2023, the fifth-most in the NFL. At 29 years old, he joins 2023 third overall pick Will Anderson Jr. to create an exciting pass-rush tandem.

Houston also added Denico Autry, bringing him over from the Tennessee Titans. Autry adds even more to the line as he had a career year in 2023 with 11.5 sacks. Other additions who should only improve the defense included linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and cornerback Jeff Okudah.

Houston's first three draft picks -- corner Kamari Lassiter, tackle Blake Fisher and safety Calen Bullock -- addressed defense and offensive line.

On paper, it was an excellent offseason for Houston.

With an offense that should be among the best in football and a defense that might be much better than it was in 2023, the Texans winning 10 games seems pretty likely, which is why the over has -150 odds.

Why Houston Could Win Under 9.5 Games

  • Too High of Expectations Following Unexpected 2023
  • New Additions Don't Click
  • Tough Schedule/Better Play From AFC South

Sometimes, teams struggle to handle lofty expectations, and that's something to watch for with the 2024 Texans.

Expected to be one of the NFL's worst teams, Houston surprised everyone last year. They embraced the underdog role and ended up getting to the second weekend of the NFL postseason. But can they now handle the pressure of everyone expecting them to be great? It's part of the game when teams improve -- and we've seen teams crumble because of it.

We can look inside the division to find an example of this. A year ago at this time, the Jags were expected to push up the rung of the AFC after winning a playoff game in 2022 and adding a big-name receiver in Calvin Ridley. Instead, the Jaguars came up short and completely missed the playoffs.

Another reason Houston could win under 9.5 games is that their new additions don't hit the ground running. A lot of changes happened this offseason, as noted prior. Many of those can (and should) turn out to be great for this team, but changing something that was so good a year ago -- specifically on offense with the addition of Diggs -- is a risk, even with how talented Diggs is.

Stroud now has lots of mouths to feed. How will Diggs, Dell or Collins handle it if there's a stretch where they're not getting many targets. Accepting roles and playing to win rather than personal gain is what the Texans need on both sides of the ball -- it's what may make or break their season.

Lastly, the schedule is going to be a big hurdle.

After finishing fourth in the AFC South in 2022, Houston benefitted from a last-place schedule in 2023. In 2024, they'll face a first-place schedule, and that means games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys. Their cross-conference divisional matchup is the NFC North, a division that features two of the NFC's top teams -- Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers -- and two other squads that could make a jump in 2024 if their rookie QBs play well.

It results in the Texans having the NFL's third-toughest schedule going by 2024 win totals.

In that same vein, the AFC South -- as a whole -- might be tougher than it's been in recent seasons.

Jacksonville retooled on both offense and defense, hoping to return to their 2022 form. The Tennessee Titans hit a hard reset this offseason, hiring a new head coach in Brian Callahan. Their offense now features Calvin Ridley, Tyler Boyd, and Tony Pollard in addition to DeAndre Hopkins. Tennessee also added L'Jarius Sneed on defense. Finally, the Indianapolis Colts will (hopefully) have Anthony Richardson back healthy. The success they had sans Richardson last season was impressive, so if Richardson can stay healthy and shine like he did early on, Indy could be a problem, as well.

If the AFC South improves, it'll only make Houston's schedule that much tougher.

All in all, the Texans are built to contend this season and be one of the AFC's best, and the betting odds point to them doing just that. As long as Stroud is healthy, 10 wins shouldn't be too tough of a challenge. But there are some variables at play, and Houston undoubtedly has a tough schedule.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.