[EDITOR’S NOTE: Every year before the season we ask everyone at the station what they think the Houston Texans record will be when the season ends. Here are the 2017 predictions from the staff at SportsRadio 610.]
Seth Payne [@PayneNFL]
MAD RADIO - 6-10a MONDAY-FRIDAY
Despite my tremendous concerns about the Duane Brown-less offensive line, I think the running game may actually improve this year simply because of D’Onta Foreman’s presence. I don’t know how good Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson will be this year, but I do think either one is capable of making D’Andre Hopkins look much less like a weakened clone of himself. The big change, however, will be in the all-important turnover margin. People like my co-host, Mike Meltser, love pointing out how many close games the Texans won last year, and that winning those games largely comes down to luck. What that argument ignores is that turnover stats are notoriously fickle as well and that a higher turnover margin would have prevented many of those games from being so close. Brock Osweiler threw more interceptions than touchdowns last year, and the defense underperformed in forced turnovers. I expect both those categories to improve this year, making up for the uncertainty at quarterback and the banged up receiving core.
Mike Meltser [@MikeMeltser]
MAD RADIO - 6-10a MONDAY-FRIDAY
I am optimistic about the defense, but the Texans are going to have to fight off some stats last season that indicates a regression to the mean. They were outscored by 49 points last season, which historically doesn’t bode well for football teams the following season.
I’m concerned about how much the offense will improve from last season, especially given the vast uncertainties with the offensive line heading into Week 1. Tom Savage hasn’t proven that he can release the ball quickly enough to stay healthy, despite his raw throwing talent.
As simple as it sounds, the fact that the Texans have the first place schedule this year, while the Titans have the second place schedule, could be a big factor in the AFC South race. Houston plays New England and Kansas City, while Tennessee plays Miami and Oakland. That may end up being a bit of a swing between these two teams.
I will be wrong IF Savage demonstrates that he can be a competent caretaker while Deshaun Watson develops, as the OL proves to be far more stable than I think it is.
Cody Stoots [@Cody_Stoots]
IN THE LOOP - 10a-2p MONDAY-FRIDAY 9-7
This team is 9-7 until this team isn’t 9-7. It’s just the way I see it. Even though the offense can’t get much worse, about the 30th ranked offense in football, and the defense might even get better I can’t do anything but say 9-7 will be their record. Savage is better than Brock but the offensive line uncertainty bothers me as far as accessing the potential of the Texans offense. Only injuries can derail the defense. I should be picking at least ten wins especially with the AFC South being overrated even without Luck early and Bortles. Still, it is 9-7 until they aren’t 9-7.
John Lopez [@LopezOnSports]
IN THE LOOP - 10a-2p MONDAY-FRIDAY
Water is wet. Yao Ming is tall. Tom Herman is a liar. Hurricane flooding sucks.
And the Texans are 9-7.
This is what the Texans do. They are slightly above-average until further notice.
As much as there is hope with Tom Savage and especially DeShaun Watson, both QBs do not figure to be able to carry this offense to anything more than we’ve already seen.
Savage has yet to throw an NFL touchdown and will be thrown into the fire as a starter for the first time. And while Watson has a much bigger upside, a rookie is a rookie. The best path to a better record and deeper run into the post-season will be defense, of course. The road to a flop could be under-achieving, mistake-prone QBs.
Sean Pendergast [@seantpendergast]
TRIPLE THREAT - 2-6p MONDAY-FRIDAY
I think the defense is going to be other worldly and incredibly fun to watch. I think, as long as Tom Savage is skippering a crew that has injuries and depth issues (and Duane issues) along the offensive line and at wide receiver, I think that side of the ball will be hard to watch. Not as hard to watch as a Brock-led offense, mind you, but still not good. Offensively, it’s like the Texans went from dating Roseanne Barr to dating…. a slightly more attractive version of Roseanne Barr…. until they hand the reins to Deshaun Watson, and then all of a sudden we are dating Minka Kelly! I think they start the season 2-5, like 2015, but the finish is just 5-4, for the 7-9 overall record. That’s the bad news, Texan fans. the good news? I’m an idiot, so they should go 9-7 again.
Ted Johnson [@teddyjradio]
TRIPLE THREAT - 2-6p MONDAY-FRIDAY
I think this is the best team Bill O’Brien has had in his four years in Houston. However, the final record won’t reflect that. I worry the tough early part of the schedule and the emergence of the Tennessee Titans will be what ultimately prevents this team from winning a division title. The defense has the best front-7 in football and JJ Watt will end up being in the DPOY award discussion late in the season. The offense has a diverse group of RB’s that are going to be exciting to watch, but this offense will struggle bc of the limitations at the QB position.
Rich Lord [HE DOESN’T USE TWITTER]
TRIPLE THREAT - 2-6p MONDAY-FRIDAY
10-6, AFC South Champions
The Texans can’t go 9-7 again, right? Right??? 3 years in a row and 4 times in the last 8 seasons, the Texans have finished 9-7 and it’s getting really old. You know what else is getting old? Not having a franchise quarterback on the field. Season 16 at least brings us the hope that the drought may end with the emergence of rookie DeShaun Watson. Even though he’ll begin the season as the backup QB, he’s my greatest reason for optimism that the Texans will be better this time around. A healthy Watt, a healthy Clowney and a healthy Kevin Johnson are keys to the Texans growing from a defense that allows the least yardage per game to, more importantly, one of the toughest defenses upon which to score. More QB pressure and more takeaways are the key to that and I think that under rising coaching star and new DC Mike Vrabel, they will get there. I don’t like the fact that Tom Savage will begin the season as the starting QB. Not because he doesn’t deserve the opportunity, but because the Texans have some big unanswered questions regarding their offensive line and skill position players and I believe that calls for the athleticism and creativity that Watson brings and Savage lacks. The sooner they get the artist in there and not the paint-by-numbers guy, the better chance they have to reach double-digit wins.
Paul Gallant [@GallantSays]
GALLANT AT NIGHT - 7-11p MONDAY-FRIDAY
Come on, we all know that 9-7 is happening again.
The Texans defense is great. If Watt, Clowney, Mercilus, and the secondary can stay healthy, the odds of the Texans being completely blown out in a game are low (outside of road dates against the Patriots and Seahawks). But the problems are the same as it has always been: The quarterback. And the offensive line.
I don’t really know what to expect from Tom Savage. I’m not expecting much. But if he can take care of the football, Houston should be able to win the majority of their games in sloppy fashion. That offensive line though…
Predicting how the season might end is much more difficult. I’m really annoyed that most of the national media crowned the Titans as some great team and new division kings after the way they collapsed down the stretch last year. I’ll need to see it before I believe it.
That said, Tennessee can still challenge Houston for the AFC South title. I just don’t think they’ll pull it off. The Texans win a tiebreaker with the also 9-7 Titans to win the AFC South . . . and are probably one and done.
Mad Radio - 6a-10a MONDAY-FRIDAY
The Texans won the AFC South division last season despite mediocre quarterback play because of an elite defense and the mediocrity of the rest of the teams in the division, that remains the same in 2017. The Texans don’t look like contenders by any stretch of the imagination because of a shaky offensive line, an average (at best) quarterback and a lack of play makers on the offensive side of the ball, but the best defense in the league gains JJ Watt. It won’t be pretty and it will look a lot like 2016, but the Texans defense will be good enough to win games ugly.
Brian McDonald [@sackedbybmac]
TRIPLE THREAT - 2-6p MONDAY-FRIDAY
Sorry to be a buzzkill right before the best time of the year starts, but the Texans are more likely to disappoint us this year, than surprise us by overachieving.
The two quarterbacks on their roster have a combined ZERO career touchdown passes.
Duane Brown missed all of training camp and the pre-season, so even when/if he does show up, he’ll likely be knocking off rust while also dealing with world-class pass rushers trying to beat up the young quarterback he’s paid to protect.
Their pair of guards are a bottom five combo in the league, and Pro Football Focus ranked the offensive line as an entire group 29th overall.
Will Fuller is out until late October or early November, Braxton Miller missed critical reps during training camp and the pre-season while dealing with an ankle injury, and the running back position also enters the season banged up.
Oh, and that’s just the offense!
The defense will obviously outperform the offense, but there are concerns. Sure they ranked 1st in yards allowed in 2016, but they also ranked 24th in sacks and 26th in takeaways last year, so that number feels misleading and unlikely to be duplicated in 2017.
J.J. Watt’s return should improve both those numbers, and their front-seven could be the league’s best, but a slipping secondary is capable of undoing all the good done by the front-seven.
Johnathan Joseph is now 33-years-old, no one will confuse Kareem Jackson for a lock-down corner, and even the most optimistic Texans fan has to be concerned about the safety position.
Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus could all be Pro-Bowlers, but–sorry for over explaining like I’m Brock Osweiler–if the safeties blow coverage letting receivers by them a couple times a game for big plays or touchdowns, that will undo the majority of snaps where the front-seven dominates.
Ryan McCredden [@rmccredden]
I really do hate writing this again this year. And I’m the one making the staff write it! But I hate writing this again because once again this is going to be a 9-7 year. The same thing I predicted last year. The Texans have the best defense in the league which is great. But this offense has major problems. The o-line is brutal. The WR’s are all injured. The RB’s look good….but see point one. They are running behind this o-line. And the biggest x-factor is the QB. We don’t know what Savage might do and Watson, even though he’s looked really exciting, is an unknown as well. So even with the best defense in the league, when the defense is on the field 40 minutes a game and playing on the wrong side of the 50, they will give up points.
Luckily, this team gets to play Jacksonville twice, Indy twice (they are the new Titans of the south), Cleveland (Although I really wanted to see Brock to make this a for sure W), LA Rams, and San Francisco. That is 7 of their 9 wins. I think they can beat the Titans once and then either Cincy, Arizona or Baltimore to get to 9.
Last year I said the 9-7 would win the south. I was right. But this year, I don’t think I can say that. The Titans will win 10 games and the 9 won’t be enough to get the Texans into the playoffs.
Garret Heinrich [@GarretHeinrich]
DIGITAL DIRECTOR (THE WEB GUY)
10-6, AFC South Champs
I want this to be what happens. I’m looking at the schedule, and I think the Texans benefit from a poor AFC South once again. 5-1 in the division means 5-5 will likely get them 10-6. I don’t trust Marcus Mariotta to stay healthy all year which will derail the Titans “gonna dominate the AFC South” train. The Texans will beat the Rams, 49ers and Cardinals and take down the Browns. That means they only need to beat one of the Bengals, Seahawks, Patriots, Ravens & Steelers. That seems doable for this team and their stellar defense.
Alex Del Barrio [@AlexDelBarrio]
WEEKEND HOST/TEXANS REPORTER
9-7 – Wild Card playoff appearance
This is becoming harder to predict every year. I try to be optimistic on these “pre-season prediction” posts. I always think what the best case scenario finish will be for the team as constructed on week one. The spectrum of wins for Texans this year seems to be between 7 and 10. No more and no less. The Texans are still better than the Jaguars and better than several of the other AFC opponents on their schedule. The one thing they are not, is a top tier team good enough to win on the road at New England or Seattle or even at home against a team like the Steelers.
I agree with Mike Meltser. When people say, “they have a first place schedule this year.” The correct, however misguided response is usually, “That only affects two games.” However in the NFL two games is often the difference between a Wild Card and a Division title, missing the playoffs or sneaking in as the sixth seed. Two games can matter in deciding a division title. Those two first place schedule teams just happen to be teams that have often embarrassed the Texans in the Chiefs and Patriots.
I feel like the defense will be elite, but they also face some pretty good quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson
I have them splitting with both the Colts and Titans (provided Luck is playing in one of those games) If they sweep either of those teams, which I think is unlikely, that would be their 10th win.
The offense is so hard to gauge since they are light at WR right now and we don’t know how Bill O’Brien will utilize rookie RB D’Onta Foreman. If they find a way to have a strong 1-2 punch at running back, I think the offense can be particularly dangerous.
Ultimately there are games where I give this team zero chance of winning. Patriots, Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks. Once you get there you’ve only got three more losses to work with just for 9-7. The schedule is not Houston’s friend this year, but as we have seen in previous seasons that’s as much of a factor as anything else.
I say the Titans win the division and the Texans have a shot at playoffs with a 9-7 record.
Shaun Bijani [@ShaunBijani]
9-7, AFC South Champions
Bill O’Brien finally gets off the 9-7 snide and continues winning the division.
I had no real expectation last year for the offense given the young receiving core and their inexperience. The ineptitude offensively was exacerbated by #17 trying to play football in the National Football League.
Tight end was a bright spot, and I’d expect more of the same this year from Fiedorowicz. I’m also anticipating more offensive popcorn farts. At least early on, until receivers get healthy and/or Savage is the truth or Watson steps in and shines.
The return of JJ Watt means the defense should be more opportunistic.
Texans takeaways the last 3 years:
2016- 17 (no JJ Watt after week 3)
The Texans created 4 turnovers in their first two weeks. They forced just 13 more in the next 14 games without Watt. When JJ is on the field the Texans defense is not just better, it’s imposing. Watt’s return also means we’ll get to see him on the field at the same time with Clowney. That should be special and a nightmare for the opposition.
Will the Texans take advantage of Jags QB situation and Luck being not so Lucky in Indy?
In short…Not exactly. They’ll beat up on each other.
What? You thought things were going to change at the flip of a switch? Psssh please.
Father Time is undefeated, the Texans, however, will be 9-7, win the division and bow out in 1st round.
Derek Fogel [@FogelSaysWhat]
WEEKEND HOST/ASTROS REPORTER
Initially, after the draft, I found myself to be an optimist about the Texans. Despite being (9-7) the last three seasons, they’ve improved in getting closer to a Super Bowl each year. Naturally, one would think that this year they make the move to be a ten win team and get to the AFC Championship in another step towards a title. As camp and the preseason unfolded however, more and more questions about the Texans seem to remain unanswered. Many of the same problems from last year come to the forefront. The offensive line, the quarterback position, the wide receivers. Mostly everything about the offense has a question mark next to it, even the kicker in my opinion. The 2017 season for the Texans will be a small step back. While other teams seem to be very progressive, the Texans look stagnant and largely unchanged. The defense will, again, only be able to carry them so far. I see the Titans taking the AFC South and the Texans falling just short at (8-8). Deshaun Watson will get some rookie reps out of the way and be ready for 2018 after the short-lived Tom Savage era comes to an end.
Fred Davis [@TheFreddyD]
You can never discount having a little extra incentive for a professional sports team that goes beyond money and title aspirations.
The Texans have that in spades this year thanks to the extra motivation from Harvey and the impact it’s had on EVERYONE in HTown – which is why this year’s home field advantage will be even more advantageous. NRG is loud already, but this city is HANGRY for some football given the last few weeks. This team is the most balanced of the BoB Era with TWO Quarterbacks that he has total confidence in despite having serious question marks on both the line and for any WR not named DHop. That said, this offense should produce more points than last year thanks to BoB being fully invested on the offensive side – we should see crisper play this year. I’ve got one Question on Defense and it ain’t JJ Watt returning to form – I’m convinced he’ll be pretty dadgum close, and that’s fine. It’s will Jadaveon Clowney take another step and actually register DOUBLE-DIGIT SACKS? The schedule ain’t cream-puff, but neither is the psyche of this team. The Texans will win seven games at home (I’m a Chiefs fan folks) and three on the road – paging Cincy – Jax and LA Rams. Who knows, I could see them sneaking in a W against Baltimore and Indy too and dropping a home game somewhere – who knows. Either way, this Texans team is poised to take the next step provided the coaching staff takes the next step.
All we’ve heard over the last three years is how BoB has guided this team to three 9-7 campaigns with the professional equivalent of Larry, Curly and Moe at the most important position in sports during that time. Guess what – you’ve got guys YOU drafted, you’ve got a great hierarchy on the coaching tree – RAC as Associate HC and Vrabel as one of the hottest coaching candidates heading up the D – this year is as much about BoB taking the next step as a coach as it is about Savage or Watson or Strong or insert anybody not named Watt here ________ rising to the occasion. The Texans go 10-6, win another division in a similar fashion as last year – (tiebreaker over the Titans) because as much as everyone wants to crown them – they’re still the Titans. Go Texans.
Texans 10-6 – AFC South Division Crown
Bounced out in Divisional Round
Edward Gilliard [@JoseFiguarolla]
I think the Texans will go 6-10 this year. Not because of the Defense, mainly because of the QB situation. I know they’re in a bad division and all of the teams in it have question marks far as the quarterbacks, but I can see Tennessee making a pretty good run and Jacksonville giving the Texans a run for their money. Not only do I think Tom Savage will struggle, I think he will get injured. Deshaun Watson will have his highlights but also have his rookie mistakes as well as get injured due to the poor O Line. I don’t see Savage or Watson taking this team to the playoffs.
I had them going 9-7 at first until I saw the last preseason game against the Saints.
Oh BTW I think Cleveland [EDITOR’S NOTE: Figgy is a Browns fan too.] will have a top 10 draft pick next year and it won’t be their own pick. Ouch! Go Texans!
Marc Ryan [@MarcRyanOnAir]
10-6 AFC South Champs
Never has there been a greater chasm between the national perception of the team I cover and my own. The oddsmakers and power poll pushers seem to think this Texans team is mediocre. An over/under of 8.5 wins? Power poll rankings between 15th and 23rd? Please.
Adding JJ Watt to a defense already ranked #1 without him fits in the same “unfair” category of Durant joining the Warriors. Many are sleeping on just how good this defense is and will be. A second consecutive #1 overall unit is well within the realm of possibility. Is it without questions? Of course not. AJ Bouye no longer calls Houston home, but Kevin Johnson will fill that gap admirably. Not much is known of what can be expected of the safeties, but this front seven is best in the NFL to these eyes, as is the linebacker corps.
Expect fewer turnovers on the offensive side of the ball in a controlled, game manager approach with Savage under center. It won’t be flashy, but also not as messy as last season. “Efficiently conservative” is a phrase which comes to mind.
The Texans will find themselves in a tight, 4th quarter battle in a divisional round playoff game against Pittsburgh for the right to travel to New England and the AFC Championship Game.