Houston Texans (10-1 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (4-7 SU, 4-7 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday, December 2nd, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.
TV: CBS/DirecTV 712
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Hou -5.5/TEN +5.5
Over/Under Total: 47
The Houston Texans are making a strong push to try and get homefield advantage during the AFC playoffs, and that push will take them on the road again this weekend where they are still a perfect 5-0 when they travel to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans at LP Field in an Sunday afternoon AFC South “rivalry” duel on CBS.
Houston is currently riding a five-game win streak, but in the last two games they’ve needed overtime to get past weaker opponents including last week’s, 34-31, OT victory on the road at Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Texans tied the game with just under two minutes remaining in regulation, then survived a turnover and a missed field goal try by Detroit in overtime in order to prevail on a late 32-yard Shayne Graham field goal to win.
But there has to be concern in Houston since their 10-1 record and five-game streak has overshadowed what should be a huge question about what has happened to their once strong defense. In back-to-back weeks the Texans have given up 37 points to Jacksonville and 31 points to Detroit, setting a dangerous trend that could spell an early exit in the playoffs if they don’t get things fixed in a hurry.
Tennessee has had a season to forget for the most part, including last week’s game when they outplayed the Jacksonville Jaguars for most of the game only to pee down their leg in a, 24-19, loss on the road. If it wasn’t for the implosion in Philly and the complete lack of anything in Kansas City, one could argue that the Titans have been a major disappointment in 2012. But with five weeks left the Titans will try and get things going in the right direction again, and a huge upset win over the Texans just might be the perfect holiday gift for fans and owner Bud Adams in order for them to forget about the misery for a little while.
With a couple extra days to rest and prepare the Texans opened as 5.5-point favorites on the road this Sunday, and even though almost all of the early money on this game is heavily on Houston (up to 80%), the number has held firm at a majority of the sportsbooks on the Web and in Las Vegas so far.
The over/under total is in the same boat, opening at 47 and holding steady at that number after the first two days of live betting on it at the window.
The Texans have survived their recent struggles on defense because Matt Schaub and the offense is still a top-10 unit across the board. Already the second highest scoring team in the league (29.7 ppg), the Texans rack up yards in bunches (395 ypg - 3rd) and often times are only stopped when they stop themselves. That likely won’t change much this week because the Tennessee defense has really let the team down this year, since they give up massive yards (391 ypg- 29th) and multiple big plays each week which put them among the league’s worst in points allowed with a 30.5 points per game average (31st).
Tennessee’s only hope at scoring an upset will be to try and keep Schaub, Arian Foster and the Texans offense off the field. With an athletic quarterback in Jake Locker and speed back Chris Johnson, the Titans will have to run the ball to be successful with that approach, something that has worked with moderate success this season (107 ypg rushing - 19th). If the Texans are forced to go with their third- and fourth string linebackers on defense (Brooks Reed, Tim Dobbins and Bradie James all questionable), Johnson could have a big day and take pressure off of Locker to try and “stay in it” by throwing the ball on the perimeter.
These two already met once this season in Houston, all the way back in September (week 4) when the Texans scored 24 unanswered points following halftime to turn a close game into a 38-14 rout. Tennessee did have success running the ball in the game (158 yards, 5.4 per carry), but most of that came in mop-up time and the Titans couldn’t find a way to stop the Texans pass rush from knocking QB Matt Hasselbeck around like a rag doll (4 sacks, fumble, two interceptions including a pick six). Houston covered a huge 13-point spread in that game rather easily, and are 3-1-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head games overall including a 41-7 destruction of the Titans in Nashville last year as 3-point road dogs.
The over has gone 4-0 in the last four meetings, and it gets even better in the games played in Nashville, with the over going 6-0 in the last six meetings played at LP Field. But historically the under is a strong play when the Titans play inside the AFC South (13-5-1 in L19 vs. AFC South rivals) and when the Texans travel away from the comfort of Houston (5-2 in L7 road games).
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m not sure that there’s any worse of a matchup for the Titans than the Houston Texans. I just don’t see how the Titans defense is going to stop the Texans run game which will setup their passing game nicely. I believe the Texans D will force Locker into making a fair share of mistakes as well. Despite it being a square opinion, I’m forced to back the Texans here. Disclaimer: When over 80% of the public is on one side the other side usually cashes and that is the case with this game. People are really loading up on Houston. I myself am not betting this game. I just can’t make a case for Tennesse to cover this number.
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