Houston Texans (6-3 SU, 5-3-1 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4 SU, 3-5 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, NFL Week 10, Sunday, November 13, 2011, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida, TV: CBS
by Scotty L, Sports Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Hou -3.5/TB +3.5
Over/Under Total: 45.5
The Houston Texans make the trip to Raymond James Stadium to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The Bucs are waning a bit after a nice 3-1 start, now at 4-4. At home, they could really use a win–not just to save their season, but to continue their development as a budding franchise. Houston, meanwhile, has rather quietly surged to 6 wins and with a 3-game winning streak, looks to kick this season into overdrive.
With a running attack that ranks 2nd in the NFL. the Texans have been rolling. On Sunday against Cleveland, RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate both ran for over 100 yards. Foster (656 yards) and Tate (623 yards) are likely the best 1-2 punch coming out of any backfield in the league. Foster has 3 straight 100-yard games, after injuries held him to a mere 10 carries in the first 3 games this season.
With QB Matt Schaub capable of high-octane passing performances, this is not a one-dimensional offense. Schaub has thrown for 2237 yards with 13 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, working with a nice pass catching crew that has 4 players with 24 or more receptions. With each win, Schaub grows more and more comfortable and you can almost sense that this team has overcome their growing pains of the past several seasons. Schaub is now 30 and in his 7th year as a starting QB. The time is now.
With all due reverence for the Houston offensive unit, this is a team that relies largely on a good defense–one of the better-rounded units in the league. The Texans D ranks first in the league in total yards allowed, is 2nd against the pass, and 4th against the run. In giving up only 40 points in the past 3 games, this unit is clicking more and more. They might be more rigorously tested against some of the more high-flying teams, as they were when giving up 40 to New Orleans, but Tampa isnt that type of team.
The Buccaneers are resourceful and well-coached and should be expected to doggedly fight to keep their heads above water. Its just that theyve seemingly taken a step backwards on both sides of the ball, especially in the past month or so. A defense that was mid-pack last season is now 29th in total yards allowed. With a middling offense, the D will need to elevate their level of play if Tampa has any hopes of squeaking into the postseason. QB Josh Freeman has been OK some weeks, but 8 touchdowns and 10 picks is a far cry from his 26 touchdown-6 interception form of last year. Still, at 4-4, one wonders how good they can be if they can just get a little boost in play from some of their key guys.
The Texans are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games on grass and 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games playing as a favorite. The Buccaneers, conversely, are 11-25-1 ATS in their last 37 games on grass and 7-19 ATS in their last 26 home games. For Tampa Bay, one would have expected better ATS numbers, especially considering how theyve surprised a lot of people by going 14-10 SU since their 3-13 mark from a few seasons ago.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: In the NFL, a lot of teams are making noise, which serves to only detract attention off the Texans. In the AFC, the Patriots and Jets are getting a lot of attention. Buffalo and Cincinnati are surprising people. Baltimore just battled it out with Pittsburgh in a Sunday night game. Houston, meanwhile, is just taking care of business, slightly underneath the radar. By the end of the day, with that defense, this team could be one of the best of the whole lot.
Time will tell, but this seems like an unlikely game for the Texans momentum to be significantly stymied. That hook could be problematic, but look for the Texans to cover. Take the Houston Texans minus 3.5 points.
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