Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills Preview and Pick – Point Spread – Week 8

Houston Texans (4-3 SU, 3-3-1 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bills (3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS), NFL Week 8, 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, November 1, 2009, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, N.Y. TV: CBS
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Texans 3.5/Bills +3.5
Over/Under: 40.5

The Houston Texans have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in their history. They have an opportunity to improve to 5-3 with a win at Buffalo. A win this weekend would be important for the Texans, as they will have a tough road game at Indianapolis the following week before their bye week.

After losing three games in a row, the Bills have won two in a row over the Jets and Panthers. At 3-4, Buffalo has a chance to get to .500 before its bye week if it can defeat the Texans.

The key to the Texans’ success this season has been their passing game. Quarterback Matt Schaub is leading the NFL in passing yards with 2,074 and in passing touchdowns with 16. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is leading the league in receiving yards with 634.

Steve Slaton had a phenomenal rookie season last year but he has struggled for the most part this year. Slaton is averaging less than 50 rushing yards per game. He has yet to get 100 rushing yards in a game. He has just two rushing touchdowns and is averaging 3.1 yards per carry. Not only is Slaton not racking up the yards, but he has fumbled six times and lost four of them. However, Schaub has been able to get Slaton involved in the passing game. Slaton has at least four catches in each of the last three games, including six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Bengals.

The Bills offense has not been up to par. Terrell Owens was supposed to enhance the offense, but he has just 18 catches for 242 yards and one touchdown. Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch have been solid in the backfield. But Trent Edwards has struggled. He has thrown more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5). Edwards was knocked out of the game against the Jets with a concussion and was replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started against the Panthers on Sunday. It is still up in the air who will be the team’s quarterback this weekend.

The Bills have the worst rush defense in the league. They are giving up 172.4 rushing yards per game. But their passing defense hasn’t been bad at all. They are allowing 190.4 passing yards per game and they tied for the most interceptions in the league with 13. And that is without cornerback Leodis McKelvin, who is out for the season with a fractured fibula.

In their last two wins over the Jets and Panthers, the Bills won because of turnovers. They intercepted Jake Delhomme three times and Mark Sanchez five times. They gave up 318 rushing yards to the Jets and still were able to win the game in overtime.

The Bills have scored 36 points in their last two wins, but they were able to do so because of the interceptions. It’s unlikely that Schaub will throw that many interceptions. He has thrown five this season. In the three games before the last two, the Bills had scored a combined 20 points. The Bills’ wins are over the Buccaneers, Jets and Panthers. The Jets were struggling when they faced the Bills, especially with their passing game, and the other two teams are two of the worst in the league.

The Texans’ last two wins were over the Bengals and 49ers, two solid teams. The 28-17 win over the Bengals on the road was particularly impressive, given how good the Bengals have been this season. The Texans lost by a touchdown to the Jaguars and the Cardinals.

In their last two home games, the Bills have scored a combined 10 points. The Texans are averaging 27.7 points per game in their road games. The total has gone under in four of Buffalo’s last five games. The Bills are 1-7 SU in and 1-7 ATS in their last eight home games. The Texans are 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games.

Ryno’s Pick: The records of these two teams can be deceiving. With the Texans only one game ahead of the Bills, it looks like Buffalo could easily win this game at home. But the Texans have defeated two legit teams - Cincinnati and San Francisco - the last two weeks, while the Bills have two wins over awful teams -Tampa Bay and Carolina - and an overtime win over the Jets when Sanchez threw five interceptions. Schaub will not throw many interceptions, if any. The Bills have good pass defense, so they may limit Schaub a little. And Slaton hasn’t been running well this season. But the Texans have played much better than Buffalo this year. The Texans have to play the Colts next week, so they know they need to win this game. The Bills have been awful at home and are not a good enough team to win three in a row. Take the Texans to cover the spread.