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Best Bets for Texans in 2023: Youth Movement Can Lead to Success

Since the 2020 season, the Houston Texans have been a disaster. Over the last three years, Houston is 11-38-1. The coaching position has also been a revolving door, as David Culley (2021) and Lovie Smith (2022) each lasted only one season.

However, the Texans finally made some impressive moves in the offseason. They landed one of the top coaches available – DeMeco Ryans. Houston also got ultra-aggressive in the draft, acquiring the No. 3 selection. With impact rookies joining the team and a promising coach, will the Texans make progress? What could be the best NFL picks for Houston in the 2023 season?

Best Bets for Texans in 2023: Youth Movement Can Lead to Success
Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans looks on/Logan Riely/Getty Images/AFP

Stroud Set Up for Success

Quarterback Davis Mills was the starter over the previous two seasons. Ultimately, he was too streaky and failed to find consistency. The Texans are hoping that No. 2 pick CJ Stroud will be a franchise quarterback.

Stroud has been up and down in the preseason, as expected for a young player. The sportsbook is offering multiple lines for his rookie season. His projected total of 17½ passing touchdowns stands out. The over seems like a favorable bet.

Ryans hired Bobby Slowik as offensive coordinator. Slowik spent the last six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and recently held the title of offensive passing game coordinator. The system will be similar to Kyle Shanahan’s in San Francisco. This is a West Coast scheme with an emphasis on the run game, which relies on zone blocking.

But what does this mean for the passing game? Stroud will likely be under center a lot and will be dishing out quick, short passes. This is a friendly system for QBs, as it does not require too much. This is one reason why Brock Purdy excelled with the 49ers in 2022.

Mills, who was in poor offensive systems, totaled 16 and 17 passing touchdowns in 2021 and 2022. With Slowik setting up a sound system, Stroud is set up for success.

Pick: CJ Stroud Over 17½ Passing Touchdowns (-115)

— Doug Farrar ✍ (@NFL_DougFarrar) May 16, 2023

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Houston’s Investment Pays Off

On paper, Houston certainly looks like a better team. This club is full of youth, making it a wild card. The Texans could shock the league by overachieving, or inconsistencies could lead to only three or four wins.

Ultimately, I believe in what Houston is doing. It should finally have quality coaching. There are difference-makers on this roster, such as running back Dameon Pierce and safety Jalen Pitre. Plus, there’s a good chance this is one of the best rookie classes in the league. Honestly, it should be with two top-three picks – Stroud and Will Anderson Jr.

The Texans made progress toward the end of the 2022 season. They went 4-1 against the spread in the final five games. Finishing third in the AFC South is a rather safe NFL prediction, and the line offers a solid profit.

The AFC South could be the worst division in football, as the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans are shaping up for underwhelming seasons. Houston will have plenty of opportunities to win. It also has favorable matchups with the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Carolina Panthers.

Pick: Houston Texans Finish Third in AFC South (+850)

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