Houston Texans (4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS) vs. New York Jets (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date/Time: Monday, October 8th, 2012/8:30 p.m. EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Hou -9/NYJ +9
Over/Under Total: 41.5
The Houston Texans will try and continue their impressive climb to the top of the NFL power rankings when they put their product on display in primetime with a Monday Night Football showdown on the road against the New York Jets in MetLife Stadium.
Houston hasn’t just won, they’ve won big and by big margins, including last week’s, 38-14, victory over Tennessee. With the top-ranked defense in the league, the 2nd-ranked scoring offense and a dangerous return game, the Texans are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the AFC in a hurry, if that can happen in only four weeks.
The Jets have become the roller coaster that many predicted, with the full-plunge screaming drop part of that ride coming last Sunday at home when they literally handed the San Francisco 49ers touchdowns in an embarrassing loss, 34-0. The Jets had no chance on offense with a struggling Mark Sanchez (145 total yards) and gave up four turnovers, then they got manhandled on the defensive line giving up 245 yards rushing and a 13-minute time of possession advantage to the Niners.
With impact players dropping like flies (last week Darrelle Revis, this week Santonio Holmes), somehow the New York Jets need to find a way to summon up the Gods of Monday Night Football for divine intervention in order to stop the Texans march through the regular season like a Sherman tank.
Oddsmakers curiously released the opening point spread for this game with Houston as a touchdown 7-point favorite on the road, but the flood of money pouring in on the perfect 4-0 ATS Texans overwhelmed the system and the number shot up to Texans minus -9 on the steam. The betting line has adjusted since, dropping back down to minus -8 at most online sportsbooks, but if you’re willing to pay the extra juice you can still find an -8.5 or -9 at a few offshore sportsbooks.
The over/under total opened at 40.5 back on Sunday night and it has since climbed a point to 41.5 at most sportsbooks, but there are a few books and properties in Las Vegas that are still showing 41 on the board.
Offensively, there’s the obvious advantage the Texans will have running the ball on Monday. Houston is one of the league’s best running teams (137 ypg - 9th), and the Jets are not nearly as stout versus the run as the used to be (allow 173 ypg - 31st), so Arian Foster might get more than the 25 carries a game he’s averaged through four weeks.
Because the Texans run the ball so well, and stick with it later in the game (although it helps to be way ahead each week), Matt Schaub has been tough to rattle with a 105.3 QB rating (3rd) and the Texans have put points on the board in bunches.
If you guessed week five on the “Sanchez-Tim Tebow QB controversy” over/under poll, you might be sitting pretty. Sanchez has had one good game (Bills in opener) and seven really bad ones (including preseason), so if his 30th in the league QB rating (69.6 ahead of rookies Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden) isn’t causing some second guessing in Jets HQ, then I’m not sure why the brought Tebow in to begin with. Against a Texans secondary ranked 2nd versus the pass, and without Holmes on the perimeter, its hard to see the Jets airing it out in primetime on Monday.
It doesn’t help Sanchez’s cause much that RB Shonn Green has disappeared from the Jets offense, since only 87 yards a game on the ground (with some of that coming with Tebow in the “wildcat”) is all the Jets can muster these days after leading the league for parts of the past few seasons off and on.
For what it’s worth, the Jets have never lost to the Texans. The last time out in 2010 turned into a 30-27 Jet victory at home, but Houston covered as 6.5-point underdogs. That was the first and only time the Texans have covered in the short five-game sample, going 1-4 ATS since the 2003 season. In the game itself, it was one of Sanchez’s best games as a pro, as he threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns including the game-winner to Holmes with 10 seconds to play.
Four of the five previous games have come in under the total, with the lone exception coming in the 57-point affair in ’10 when the total closed at 46.
If the Texans 4-0 ATS start hasn’t put them on every “sharp” cappers radar by now, well then the fact the Texans have been stellar on the road (7-1 ATS in L8) and against the AFC (14-3-2 ATS in L19 vs. AFC) will just throw gas on the fire.
The under is a trend pick as well this week, since it’s 8-1 in the last nine games after the Texans scored more than 30 points in the previous game, 22-10 following a Texans ATS win and 4-0 in the Jets last four games following a double-digit loss at home.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I was burned royally by the Jets at home last week, and this week it looks worse. The Texans are legit, but they’re due for a dud sooner or later. A 9-point dog at home is hard to pass up, and since everyone is jumping off the Jets bandwagon it could be just the right time for them to pull a miracle. I’m taking the Jets plus the points.
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