Home games: Minnesota, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Green Bay, New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Tennessee.
Road games: Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis.
Projected record: 9-7
Bill O’Brien has plenty to be nervous about as season 2020/21 approaches.
He’s a head coach who has regularly encountered some drama, both on and off the field in his role as coach, but also largely as the team’s general manager.
O’Brien’s decision to trade away DeAndre Hopkins, one of the premier receivers in the NFL, will basically be the reason he remains as coach or the reason he is removed.
Players and analysts around the league were left stunned when Hopkins was dealt to Arizona in return for running back David Johnson as well as pick 40 which resulted in the arrival of defensive tackle, Ross Blacklock. Let’s hope Blacklock is a sensational player!
Johnson arrives in Houston with many questions. He’s of high character but his past few seasons have been riddled with injury.
DJ had 32 touchdowns in his first two seasons but has only found the end zone 16 times in his next three years.
Looking positively at Johnson and his skill set, he should benefit from playing alongside Deshaun Watson. Johnson is a genuine dual-threat back and has regularly shown the ability to break off a big play.
Brandin Cooks arrives to provide a deep threat but his intermediate route-running skills are also valuable, but O’Brien will need to be creative like Sean McVay was with Cooks in LA.
Randall Cobb, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills make up the remainder of the receiving core which leaves plenty to be desired. With Hopkins gone, there’s nothing resembling a No. 1 wideout.
Laremy Tunsil was traded in from Miami and signed a large contract extension to keep Watson clean.
Defensively, J.J. Watt needs to remain healthy for this unit to be effective. The secondary is under construction but does possess some household names who could form a nice group.
Now, getting to Watson.
He is going to have to become an MVP contender for the Texans to be relevant, let alone dangerous. The hope will be that Johnson can carry some of the burden thanks to his skills as a rusher and receiver but he needs to overcome recent injury concerns.
Watson himself is deadly on the ground and that will remain an important part of the Texans weaponry.
The AFC South is an open division with recent moving parts at important positions on and off the field.
The Texans can contend in the AFC South but doing so without Hopkins has to make the task much more difficult.