Titans-Texans Betting Preview & Pick: Will Houston’s Luck Run Out?
Week 12 Recap: After posting a 2-1 record against the spread on Thanksgiving, I went .500 on Sunday’s slate. While the Seahawks won outright as an underdog in Charlotte and the Browns pulled off a small upset of their own in Cincinnati, I whiffed badly on the 49ers as a road dog in Tampa. My other loss was the Packers on Sunday night, as an overthrow by Aaron Rodgers on a potential touchdown pass to Devante Adams in the closing minutes cost me a backdoor cover. My season record now stands at 40-20-3 against the spread this NFL season.
On Monday night the Texans host the Titans in a matchup of AFC South rivals. I’ve noticed several betting sights making a case for the underdog Titans, citing the Texans’ good fortunate in one-score games this season. Below is my breakdown of the game.
273 Tennessee Titans at 274 Houston Texans
- Spread: Texans -4
- O/U: 42.5
- Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Houston opened as either a 6 or 5.5-point home favorite depending on which sportsbook you view. Once it was announced that Marcus Mariota (stinger) was probable to play, the line was bet down as low as 3.5. As of Monday morning, the spread is back up slightly to Texans -4.
As for the total, it opened as high as 43 but has been bet down to 42.5.
Most of the betting tickets (70 percent) and money wagered (66 percent) is on the Texans. The same goes for the over, which is attracting 67 percent of the tickets and 86 percent of the money.
Since this is a divisional matchup, there are a handful of trends. For starters, the home team is 5-0 against the spread in the last five meetings between these two teams. The favorite is also 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings. The Titans are 0-4 against the number in their last four trips to NRG Stadium and are just 4-10-1 at the betting window in their last 15 games versus the Texans overall. Finally, the over cashed in six of the previous seven meetings between the Titans and Texans when the game is played in Houston.
The chatter surrounding this game (at least from a betting standpoint) has been about the Texans’ good fortunate and yes, they’ve been lucky at times this season. During their current seven-game winning streak, they’ve won five one-possession games. Those games tend to even out over time, which is why some betting pundits have built an argument for taking the Titans and the points tonight.
That said, luck has a habit of sticking with a team throughout an entire season. It’s the following year when said team sees the ball bounce away from them more often and they lose those one-score games. Thus, Houston’s good fortune won’t scare me off the Texans tonight, although it is worth filing away for next year.
The Titans beat the Texans 20-17 in Week 2 this season, but the final was a tad misleading. For starters, Houston out-gained Tennessee 437-283 in that game. The Titans also scored on a 66-yard touchdown pass off a fake punt. It’s not as if Tennessee thoroughly out-played Houston.
The Titans also have offensive line issues. They rank 32nd in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate, while Houston is 10th in sacks per game. Left tackle Taylor Lewan (illness) and center Ben Jones (shoulder) are expected to play but toss in Mariota’s battles with injuries this season and it’s hard to trust Tennessee’s ability to consistently move the ball against J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney. When the Titans have the ball, they will be overmatched tonight in the trenches.
Speaking of Houston’s defense, the unit has held opponents to 16 points per game over its last six contests. The Titans are averaging just 16.6 points per game on the road this season, again, mostly due to their offensive line woes.
Granted, the Texans have had their own issues up front. DeShaun Watson has been under siege all season, even during Houston’s current seven-game winning streak. This is one of the reasons why they’ve played so many one-possession games: They can’t keep the pocket clean for Watson, who has forced some poor throws, including in last week’s narrow victory against Washington.
Nevertheless, the blitz-happy Titans could also leave running lanes for Watson, who is finally healthy following ACL surgery last season. Newcomer Demaryius Thomas isn’t up to speed yet in Bill O’Brien’s offense but thanks to DeAndre Hopkins and rookie Keke Coutee, the Texans have more than enough weapons in the passing game to make big plays against this vastly underrated Tennessee defense.
Here’s how I see this game playing out: The game will be close in the first half. I envision the score being tied at halftime, or at least within one possession either way. But at some point in the third quarter, Tennessee’s defense will relent and Houston will open up the scoring. Since I don’t trust the Titans to move the ball much, I like the Texans to win yet another one-possession game, 23-16.
Pick: Texans -4
ATS Season Records
- Week 1: 5-0
- Week 2: 3-2
- Week 3: 4-1
- Week 4: 3-1-1
- Week 5: 3-2
- Week 6: 4-1
- Week 7: 2-3
- Week 8: 3-2
- Week 9: 4-1
- Week 10: 3-2
- Week 11: 2-2-2
- Week 12: 4-3
- Overall: 40-20-3