As preparation is underway for the 2018 NFL regular season, certainly the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans are two of the more intriguing storylines head into the campaign. Which version of each team will show up? Last season, the Rams stormed to the NFC West title with an 11-5 record, posting their first winning season since 2003 and making the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Rams had lost at least nine games in 10 of the previous 12 seasons.
Last season was a tale of two teams for the Texans. With rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson at the helm, the Texans were among the NFL's most explosive offenses. They averaged 39 points a game for one five-game stretch with Watson under center. But after a torn ACL ended Watson's season, the team was left to turn to Tom Savage at quarterback and the offense imploded. The Texans topped 16 points just once in their last nine games, averaging 13.6 points per game over that span, and finished 4-12.
Dynamic DeShaun - Watson was certainly the catalyst for the Houston offense last season and his return to health presents a whole multitiude of curious wagering opportunities. In his seven career NFL appearances as a rookie, Watson passed for 1699 yards, a competition rate of 61.8 percent, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His passer rating was an impressive 103. He also ran the ball 36 times for 269 yards, a 7.5 yard per carry average, and two TDs. Houston was 3-3 with Watson as its starter and 1-9 without.
Watson's performance has left the online sportsbooks all over the map regarding what to do with his potential in their many future book wagers. Bovada has Watson as their co-third betting choice to be MVP of the NFL in 2018 at odds of +1500. Yet they've also got Watson well down the list to lead the league in passing yardage, offering odds of +4000 on him. And he's their co-seventh betting option to lead the NFL in TD passes at +1400.
Then again, Bovada has also got him as their chalk to throw the most picks in the NFL this season at +500. Over at Betway, you can get odds of +500 on Watson being named the NFL's comeback player of the year in 2018. They list Watson at +2000 to be the MVP, and +2500 to finish as the NFL leader in passing yardage. Bet365 puts Watson at +1600 to be the league's passing yardage leader and +600 to be the NFL comeback player of the year.
Watt Up - If Watson isn't the NFL's comeback player of the year, perhaps it will be his Texans teammate, defensive lineman J.J. Watt. A combination of a herniated disc that required back surgery and a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg served to limit Watt to just eight games over the past two seasons. He started every game of his first five seasons and won the NFL's defensive player of years three times - in 2012, 2014 and 2015 - and led the NFL in sacks in 2012 and 2015.
Bet365 lists Watt at their fifth betting choice to be NFL comeback player of the year at +500. He's their co-fifth choice to lead the NFL in quarterback sacks at +1200. And at +500, he is the co-favorite to be the NFL's defensive player of the year along with Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders. You can even get odds of +10000 on Watt being named the MVP of the NFL, a feat achieved only twice in NFL history by a player who worked on the defensive side of the ball.
Hopkins Hope - A healthy Watson should also prove a boon to the fortunes of Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Not that last year was a bad year, mind you. Hopkins was fourth in the NFL in receiving yards at 1378 and led the league with 13 TD receptions. Bovada likes Hopkins as their co-third betting choice to lead the NFL in receiving yardage at +650. Bet365 ranks Hopkins as their 14th option - but first among receivers - to lead the NFL in TDs at odds of +2800.
The Donald - The Rams also have their defensive stud, and in defensive end Aaron Donald they suit up the reigning NFL defensive player of the year. Bet365 puts Donald at odds of +600 to defend his title, just behind the chalk of Mack and Watt. They also list Donald as +2500 to lead the NFL in sacks. Betway flips the order on defensive player of the year, setting Donald as the +500 favorite, with Watt and Mack right behind him at +600. They put Donald at +1600 to be the NFL leader in sacks.
Touchdown Todd - One of the Rams who enjoyed a breakout campaign individually last season was running back Todd Gurley. After leading the NFC in rushing with 1305 yards and topping the NFL With 19 touchdowns - 13 on the ground and six on receptions - Gurley was named the NFL's offensive player of the year. Bovada slots Gurley in as their third choice to lead the NFL in rushing in 2018 at +600. They've given him odds of +3000 to be the MVP. Bet365 puts Gurley down as the +450 chalk to again lead the NFL in TDs.
Jared's Journey - The Texans may be excited about the return to health of Watson but the the Rams are just as equally excited about returning with Jared Goff as their quarterback. The first player chosen in the 2016 NFL Draft, Goff came into his own as a sophomore, passing for 28 TDS, which put him tied for fifth in league, and 3804 yards, good for 10th overall. But Goff was picked off only seven times, and his passer rating of 100.5 was fifth-best in the NFL.
Bovada offers odds of +2500 on Goff leading the NFL in passing yardage in 2018, and he's set at +3300 to be the MVP. He's listed at +1400 to be the NFL leader in TD passes.