Houston Texans (6-5 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bills (5-6 SU, 5-5-1 ATS)
Pro Football Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday, December 6th, 1:00 PM EST
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium
By Mike M., NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: HOU +3 / BUFF -3
Over/Under Total: 41
The Houston Texans mosey up to Buffalo to take on the Bills in a Sunday afternoon showdown of two teams streaking in opposite directions as the playoff race starts to heat up in the AFC. Houston has won and covered four games in a row and are currently tied for the top spot in the AFC South, while Buffalo has lost their last two games and four of their last six, and with last weeks loss to Kansas City clinched their twentieth consecutive season of not winning the AFC East.
The Bills are coming off of a 30-22 loss to the Chiefs, a game in which they had a 16-7 lead with two minutes left in the first half but from that point on were massively outplayed and more so outcoached. Its one thing for Buffalo coach Rex Ryan to be routinely schooled by rival Bill Belichick, but when he starts being outsmarted by the likes of Andy Reid it only adds weight to the theory that Ryan is yet another example of someone who is better suited to be a coordinator than a head coach. This is at least a step up from his brother Rob, who after his last two seasons of failure leading the Saints to the leagues worst rated defense and netting only one winning season during his eleven year tenure as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, seems better suited as the guy who cleans up after the elephants at the zoo than a coordinator.
Five different times during the Bills loss to the Chiefs Rex Ryan was erroneous in his decision to challenge or not challenge a play, as he was incorrect on the teams two challenges while not challenging to get three plays overturned during the game that were called incorrectly on the field, one of which was a 40+ yard gain for the Chiefs on their game winning drive that should have been ruled an incomplete pass and led to a touchdown on the very next play. Ryan blamed his replay remorse on the Arrowhead Stadium scoreboard, claiming that they dont show enough replays on their jumbotron and that he wasnt able to make an accurate judgment because of that. Most teams, as in every other NFL team and all 128 FBS college football teams, have a system in place where coaches are there to specifically look for challengeable plays, but with Rex in charge boisterous buffoonery takes the place of logic and accountability.
Poor coaching was not the only reason for the Bills demise, as their defensive line continued to be decimated by injuries and their offense that looked so potent in the first half seemed to sleepwalk through the second frame as they managed only six points in the games final 30 minutes and simply couldnt keep pace with the Chiefs. Two members of the Buffalo defensive front were placed on injury reserve this week, Alex Carrington and Kyle Williams. Carrington was only starting as a replacement for also hurt Mario Williams, but now is gone for the season and their d-line superstar Mario is again questionable to play this weekend so the Bills will go with the next man up theory and hope it works better for them than it has for their division rival New England Patriots who have had issues with their practice squad scrap heap of receivers they have had to play in recent weeks as they also deal with an avalanche of injuries.
Thankfully for the Bills opponent on Sunday their defensive line is playing better than any other in the league, in large part because of the dominant play of J.J. Watt, who currently leads the NFL in sacks with 13.5 and recorded his fifth multi-sack game of the year last week in the Texans 24-6 win against New Orleans in which they prevented the Saints number two ranked offense from scoring a touchdown in a game for the first time this year and it marked the third game in the past four that Houston was able to keep a team from getting into the endzone. The Texans held New Orleans running back Mark Ingram to just 52 yards rushing, marking the fourth game in a row that Houston was able to shutdown the opposing teams starting running back after previously limiting the Bengals Giovanni Bernard (36 yards), Jets Chris Ivory (36 yards) and Titans Antonio Andrews (64 yards).
While J.J. Watt leads the defense, Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has certified himself as a superstar in the league with his performance this season and is the clear focal point of the offense. Hopkins leads the NFL in targets with 144, is tied for second in touchdowns with nine and is third in receiving yards with 1,081. He has developed a nice rapport with quarterback Brian Hoyer, who returned last week from a concussion injury to complete 21 of 27 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns, and Hopkins will hope that Arian Fosters running back replacement Alfred Blue can continue his 100+ yard success from last week against a depleted Buffalo frontline and open things up for him down the field..
The Bills looked helpless last week in the second half, both on the field and on the sidelines, and how they respond to such a poor showing will go a long way in determining their chances of getting wild card berth and hopefully avoiding a sixteenth straight season without making the playoffs. While things may appear to be looking up for Buffalo as they are at home and favored to win, that hasnt meant much of late for the Bills are they are just 2-3 at home this season and have covered just once in their last five games as a favorite and now have to face a Houston team that has been playing on a mission since suffering an embarrassing 44-26 loss to Miami back in October in which they down 41-0 after the second quarter. Rather than give up the team played hard in the second half, which is a testament to the strong work ethic and character instilled by head coach Bill O Brien, and since has let up just two touchdowns in their last eighteen quarters of play. The game carries great significance for both teams with the Texans fighting for what would be their third division title in five years and the Bills essentially playing an elimination game as a loss would put them at a record of 5-7, which would near assuredly knock them out of playoff contention. Ryan and Buffalo may be in desperate need of a win, but Id rather take the points and side with the team led by a better coach that is playing smarter football at a consistently higher level. Go with the Texans.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Houston +3
Deposit $200 and get $100 FREE at one of the web’s oldest and most trusted online sportsbooks: Bovada.