After a brief time atop the hill as Super Bowl favorites halfway through the 2012 NFL season, the Houston Texans return to their usual perch just on the outskirts heading int0 2013 according to Vegas.
A team that finished as the AFC’s No. 3 seed last season is now receiving the third-highest Super Bowl odds out of the conference at 18-to-1, significantly behind the Denver Broncos at 6-to-1 and New England Patriots at 7-to-1. It’s fitting that they inhabit their own tier with the Pittsburgh Steelers way back at 32-to-1; always the fringe team never the champ.
However, their trajectory does have the look of a team on the upswing; that proves there’s a first time for everything. After sitting behind the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South for years, it’s easy to forget this hump has been conquered and then some. Houston has topped the division two years running and now possesses the highest division title odds at -250, good for second-best division title odds in the league behind the Broncos and Patriots at -500.
Houston is also getting love when it comes to the lines for regular-season win total, with RJ Bell of Pregame.com’s consensus line putting them at 10 for the season — right along perennial contenders in the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons.
The X-factors in play are how much pass-rush Houston musters on the edges to take advantage of JJ Watt’s presence and whether Matt Schaub can take the step from good to playoff-caliber.
Then a new one crept up this week as star tailback Arian Foster went down with a calf injury in practice. The injury seems minor, but he probably can’t break down for this team to go very far.