Houston Texans (6-3 SU, 5-3-1 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: Monday, November 21, 2016, 8:30 PM EST
Where: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
TV: ESPN, DirecTV 206
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: HOU +5.5/OAK -5.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
Two of the AFC’s up and coming teams currently sitting in prime shape right in the middle of the AFC playoff chase will try and knock each other off their perch, when the AFC South-leading Houston Texans and surprising seven-win Oakland Raiders meet on the neutral-site venue of Estadio Azteca in Mexico City for this week’s telecast of Monday Night Football on ESPN.
Despite the struggles of their new franchise quarterback Brock Osweiler, the Texans continue to win and stay ahead of the chase pack in the AFC South. Last week two Osweiler TD throws and a pick-six by corner Kareem Jackson helped the Texans hold off a late flurry from division rival Jacksonville on the road, 24-21, to stay a game ahead of the Tennessee Titans in the win column in the AFC South.
But Jackson and the Texans defense is certainly going to have their hands full when the NFL’s newest gunslinger comes to Mexico City, as Raiders third-year QB Derek Carr has inserted himself into the early MVP talk with 2,500 yards and 17 touchdown throws in only nine games to lead Oakland to their best start since the old Kenny Stabler days in Oakland. Three weeks ago Carr thrust himself into the spotlight with 513 yards passing and four scores in an overtime victory over Tampa Bay, and then in front of a primetime Sunday night audience he helped the Raiders defeat the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos at home in the Coliseum, 30-20.
To help the Raiders even more, they will be coming off a bye from last weekend as they prepare for the NFL’s trip to promote the game in Mexico City, what will be an almost 5,000-mile trek both ways for the team from Oakland when all is said and done.
Despite the neutral-site nature of this Monday Night Football game on foreign soil, it hasn’t stopped oddsmakers from installing the Raiders as large 5.5-point favorites going into the game. Most of the early steam at the window is also heavily in favor of Oakland, which has cause more than a few sportsbooks to move the point spread up the hook to Oakland minus -6 to try and tilt a little of the action toward the Texans.
The over/under total opened at 46 and hasn’t seen nearly the amount of action or the amount of line movement that the point spread has seen, but typical of totals in the NFL you can find the number at 45.5, 46 and 46.5 if you look hard enough and are willing to pay a little extra juice to get the number you want.
As mentioned earlier, Osweiler’s struggles in the new Texans offensive scheme has hurt their production since the Texans are 30th in total yards (309 ypg) and dead-last 32nd in passing yards at only 187 yards a game. Luckily their other offseason pickup, running back Lamar Miller, has sparked the offense to the 5th-best rushing total in the league with 121 yards a contest. The good news for Houston fans is that the Raiders defense is ranked toward the bottom half of the league in most defensive categories including total yards (398 ypg – 28th), passing yards (283 ypg – 30th) and points allowed (24.8 ppg – 21st).
Something is also going to have to give when the Raiders have the ball, especially since Carr has enjoyed throwing the ball with lots of success this season (273 ypg -6th), because the Texans secondary is ranked 3rd in the NFL allowing just 197 yards a game. The weak link for the Houston defense is their run defense (121 ypg – 26th), and since the Raiders proved against the Broncos last time out that they can run the ball effectively (rushed for 218 yards on 43 carries), I’d suspect a similar game plan of run-first in order to slow down the Texans pass rush and eat the clock and move the chains.
Houston won the previous meeting between these two back in 2014, 30-14, on the road in Oakland. But those were much different teams then the ones suiting up on Monday Night in primetime. All told, Houston holds a 6-4 SU edge on the Raiders going back to 2004, and a 7-3 ATS advantage during the same 10-game time span.
Neither team has enjoyed the lights of primetime on Monday Night Football over the years, since Houston is 1-8 ATS in their last nine games in the showcase game while Oakland is only 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 Monday games.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I know everyone is in love with the Raiders and Carr right now, and rightfully so. But this is a neutral site game, and I’m just not so sure they will beat them by six points in order to cover the point spread. So I’m going to take the “safe” play and play the under of 46.5 in this game. I think both offenses will struggle a little, Oakland’s because the Texans defense is pretty good and Houston’s because they are just plain bad. I’m taking the under of 46.5
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