Tennessee Titans (2-9 SU, 3-7-1 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (5-6 SU, 6-5 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date and Time: Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEN +7/HOU -7
Over/Under Total: 42.5
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On Sunday in an AFC South matchup, the Tennessee Titans come to NRG Stadium to face the Houston Texans. The Titans are 2-9, having lost five in a row, and nine of ten going back to their week one win. Houston lost at home last week 22-13 to Cincinnati. After beginning the season 3-1, they have now lost 5 of their last 7 games.
On October 26, these teams met in Nashville, with Houston emerging with a comprehensive 30-16 win, as the Titans added a meaningless TD at the end of the game. Ryan Fitzpatrick was pretty good for the Texans, connecting well with DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson, while Arian Foster was terrific with 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tennessee struggled on both sides of the ball, though Zach Mettenberger had nearly 300 yards, It just didnt translate to much scoring, as a pair of costly turnovers and some penalties loosened the offenses foothold.
Theres nothing about Houstons form that would suggest a winning streak is about to take place. But they could still at least creep into the playoff picture if they could string together a few good results starting here. After two starts, QB Ryan Mallett is out for the season with a pectoral injury, meaning the Texans will again turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was benched a few weeks ago. Suffice to say its been another tough season for the Texans–not as bad as last year by any stretch, but still difficult.
Houston is third in the league in rushing, while their passing-game languishes near the bottom of the rankings. After missing a few games, RB Arian Foster could be back and hes a game-changing force, with 822 yards this season despite being hurt a lot. RB Alfred Blue is a nice complimentary piece. And they do have two gifted receivers in Hopkins and the erstwhile vet Johnson, if the aerial game ever starts to catch some fire.
Defensively, the Texans have a ton of talent and some real playmakers, like JJ Watt. Brian Cushing is in there, along with a lot of talented guys. But the results have been mixed. Injuries havent helped, but top-pick Jadeveon Clowney hasnt really been producing anything positive. This defense is 31st against the pass and only 18th against the run. At some point, expect things to come around, but its been a largely underachieving group this season.
Though they have no wins to show for it, the Titans have gotten some pretty good showings from 6th-round rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. He threw for 345 yards on Sunday against the Eagles and has over 1100 yards in just 4 starts, with 7 TD throws and 5 picks. But it is a low-end offense, ranked 28th in total yards and 29th in points scored. And there have been some injuries, with RB Bishop Sankey probable, while Dexter McCluster and LT Taylor Lewan are questionable for Sunday.
Defensively, it isnt much better for the Titans. They are the worst team against the run in the league and 26th in points allowed. They are decent against opposing quarterbacks, but lets face it, its been a terrible season for a team many liked as perhaps a darkhorse wild-card contender. The defense has been a disappointment, while the offense seems stuck in the mud more often than not. 2014 has been a big setback for Tennessee. They seem to lack an identity, as they are now reduced to just groping their way through the season.
Tennessee has lost 9 out of 10 games. Six of those 9 losses were by at least 14 points. So its not like theyre in many of these games. Most of the time, its been a lopsided loss. Houston isnt exactly setting the world on fire, but we see it hasnt always taken great teams to beat the Titans with room to spare this season.
One of the teams to beat Tennessee clearly was this very Houston team. There have been some injuries and not having Arian Foster in peak form throws the match-up into a different light perhaps. But now at home, Houston should be expected to take it to their spiraling opponent, right? After all, they handled them on the road and nothing good has happened to Tennessee since to make this seem like a more dangerous match-up. But when betting on a second division game this year, the first matchup hasnt always been a very helpful roadmap. Those convenient, capsulized explanations of never seem to hold water. If Tennessee were to cover, or even win this game, it would hardly be earth-shattering. In fact, it would barely make a ripple.
Time and again, we see how much Houston struggles without Foster or when hes just a shadow of his peak self due to injuries, which he always seems to have in one form or another. And the quarterback situation is disheartening, with Fitzpatrick being thrown back in there after being benched. Houston should win the game, but I see the Titans hanging in there and covering the spread.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Tennessee Titans plus 7 points.