Monday Night Football Predictions: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Before we look at this Monday's Titans-Texans matchup from Houston, let's just say a giant thank you to Roger Goodell, Sean McVay and Andy Reid. Thanks to the commissioner for having the foresight to move last Monday's Chiefs-Rams game from a field in Mexico City that resembled a cow pasture to Los Angeles - an area that needs all the good news it can get these days. If that game was played in Mexico City in those conditions, no way we see a 54-51 thriller that some think was the greatest regular-season game ever. Thank you to McVay and Reid for helping change the NFL into a much more interesting game from an offensive perspective.
I'm willing to bet my life savings we don't approach 105 points (or, shoot, within 40 of that) in Titans-Texans, but it's arguably more important than Chiefs-Rams because division games are always more important than interconference ones.
Houston's Bill O'Brien has gone from nearly getting fired following a 0-3 start to potential Coach of the Year as the Texans are the first team since the merger to win seven straight after losing their first three. They have a two-game lead atop the AFC South and are -275 at Bovada to win it. The Titans are two back with the Colts, with Tennessee at +500 to win the division and red-hot Indy at +400.
Titans at Texans Betting Story Lines
In Tennessee's 3-4 start, every game but one went down to the wire. Since the Titans' Week 8 bye, none of their three have been close. I didn't see them winning Week 9 on Monday in Dallas and didn't see them on a short week then knocking off the visiting Patriots, but they did both.
Last Sunday's 38-10 loss at the Colts wasn't too surprising because of how well Andrew Luck and that offense is playing right now. The 38 points allowed were by far a season high for that very good Tennessee defense. I doubt it would have mattered, but any chance the Titans had of beating Indy vanished when Marcus Mariota left late in the first half with what was called an elbow injury but now a stinger.
As of this writing, it's not clear if he will play, but he was at practice Wednesday in the portion available to the media. Backup Blaine Gabbert was seen as the only one throwing. Stingers don't generally cause QBs to miss a game, plus obviously Mariota has an extra day. For purposes of this pick, we'll assume he's playing.
Houston came out of its bye on Sunday and won 23-21 at Washington, a result that affected not just the AFC South race but also the NFC East. I say that because the Texans broke Alex Smith's leg on a sack a la Joe Theismann, so Washington's probably not winning the East now.
Deshaun Watson wasn't particularly good vs. the Skins with 208 yards, a TD and two picks (new addition Demaryius Thomas didn't have a catch!), but Houston's defense continued its resurgence. Rookie safety Justin Reid had a 101-yard interception return for a score late in the second for a 17-7 lead. It was the third 100-yard TD return (including kicks) in franchise history.
Houston has to get better in the red zone as Ka'imi Fairbairn has a league-high 27 field-goal attempts. The Texans' remaining schedule is very friendly. Including this one, four of the six are at home (Texans will be favored in each) and the two on the road are at the sorry Jets and the fading Eagles.
Titans at Texans Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Houston is a 7-point favorite (+120) with a total of 41. On the moneyline, the Texans are -275 and Titans +235. On the alternate lines, the Texans are -6.5 (-102) and -6 (-110). Tennessee is 6-4 against the spread (3-3 on road) and 3-7 "over/under" (2-4 on road). Houston is 4-6 ATS (1-3 at home) and 4-6 O/U (2-2 at home).
The Titans have covered seven straight on Monday, but that matters little to me. They are 5-12-1 ATS in their past 18 November games. The Texans are 4-1 ATS in their past five vs. the AFC. The under is 6-0 in Tennessee's past six vs. the division. It's 5-2 in Houston's. The home team is 5-0 in the past five meetings.
Titans at Texans Betting Prediction
If it is Gabbert, he did beat the Texans in Week 2, 20-17, thanks to a Ryan Succop 31-yard field goal with 1:00 left. Gabbert essentially managed a conservative game plan and didn't make mistakes. The Titans were conservative yet also had a few trick plays, including a fake punt for a 66-yard TD pass. Houston dominated statistically.
I would bet this now in case Mariota does sit and the line jumps over a touchdown. Go Houston at -6 and the under.
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