NFL betting handicappers have seen encouraging signs from Houston as the Texans are coming off their first ever winning season and had the top passing attack in NFL gambling.
If Houston is to take the next step, however, an improved running game is a necessity. While the passing attack is among the NFL’s elite it was not enough to get the Texans into the post season last year and too much reliance has been placed on quarterback Matt Schaub.
Schaub’s confidence continues to grow even with the lofty expectations and his teammates say that he is far looser than in the past. Schaub passed for 4770 yards last year and 29 touchdown passes with a completion percentage of 68 and a QB rating of 98.6.
Houston’s rushing attack ranked 30th last year and their inability to put away opponents by milking the clock with a strong rushing attack was a weakness with the NFL betting odds.
“We want to be more of a balanced team,” said Schaub. “We are a passing team, but we don’t ever want it to be where we throw 80 percent of the time. If it means more in terms of wins to run the ball, then that’s what we’ll need to do.”
“For our team to get better, we have to be balanced,” said Houston head coach Gary Kubiak. “We couldn’t close games late in the fourth quarter because we couldn’t run the ball. When you throw it to close games, it makes it more difficult.”
Houston’s inability to close was a point of frustration with burned handicappers that backed them with the NFL betting lines. Steve Slaton and Arian Foster are competing for the top job.
Slaton had a fine rookie season in 2008 but suffered a sophomore jinx. Foster has been the starter in preseason but Slaton is challenging with an improved attitude and reduced waist line.
The Texans continued to struggle with the ground game in their NFL betting loss last week at New Orleans as they averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in a 20-38 blowout loss. Against Arizona in the preseason opener they averaged just 3.6 yards per carry.
Houston hosts Dallas in preseason action Saturday night.