NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans
Well, I kept my word and didn't watch one second of last Thursday night's snoozefest between the Broncos and Cardinals from the desert. Glad I didn't because I was wrong on both the spread and total. These things happen on games where you just don't get excited about either side.
I suppose this Thursday's matchup from Houston is a bit better as the AFC South-leading Texans (4-3) host the Miami Dolphins (4-3). Some playoff ramifications potentially as I could easily see Houston winning that terrible division with Jacksonville's quarterback issues and Tennessee's overall offensive problems. The Colts have Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton and not much else.
Give Miami no shot at winning the AFC East because some guy named Tom Brady is still active. Suppose the Fins could compete for a wild-card spot, but I certainly wouldn't put my hard-earned money on that.
The starting quarterback on each side Thursday is banged up, with Miami's Ryan Tannehill not playing again. Arguably the game of Tannehill's life came in his team's last meeting with the Texans. That was Oct. 25, 2015, in Miami, and the Dolphins prevailed 44-26 for their first victory in eight tries in the series. Many of the greatest QBs never finished a game with a perfect rating of 158.3. Tannehill that day completed 18 of 19 for 282 yards, four scores and no turnovers. Lamar Miller rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown - he's now with Houston.
Dolphins at Texans Betting Story Lines
Tannehill was a late scratch in Week 6, and the Dolphins were able to upset the Bears behind a big game from Brock Osweiler. Tannehill was never close to playing this past Sunday, and Miami was trounced 32-21 at home by Detroit. Osweiler did a nice job again, completing 22 of 31 for 239 yards and two scores without a pick. However, the Dolphins defense was destroyed for 248 yards rushing, the most for the Lions in 21 years. Rookie Kerryon Johnson had 158 on just 19 carries. Detroit had scoring drives covering 64, 85, 75, 65, 75, 63 and 44 yards.
The Dolphins are being vague about Tannehill's shoulder injury, but he's not playing Thursday. Osweiler apparently will be missing his two top receivers, big-play Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills, as well. Wilson, who entered Week 7 leading all NFL receivers in yards after the catch, was seeing a specialist on Monday regarding a hip injury that sounds potentially season-ending. Stills suffered a groin strain on the final series. That means the Fins will have to activate disgruntled WR DeVante Parker instead of trading him like they hoped.
Parker's agent called Miami coach Adam Gase "incompetent" after his client was a surprise inactive Sunday. Not sure I've heard an agent call out a coach like that. Parker missed a few games earlier in the year with a quad injury and a broken finger but practiced all last week. Clearly, both sides need a fresh start. Maybe now that Oakland has traded WR Amari Cooper to Dallas the Fins will find a market for Parker. Guy has some talent as he was the 14th overall pick in 2015.
Meanwhile, Houston's Deshaun Watson had to take a bus to Jacksonville this past week because he couldn't fly due to a partially collapsed lung. Yet Watson was out there and Houston upset the Jags 20-7 to become just the sixth team since 1970 to win four consecutive games immediately following an 0-3 start to a season. The last was the 2011 Chiefs. Watson wasn't asked to do too much, completing 12 of 24 for 139 yards and a TD - his first game of the year without a pick. For once, the Texans O-Line did a nice job protecting him.
Houston ran the ball 37 times for 141 yards and a score - Miller had his best game of the year with 100 yards and a TD on 22 carries. Think the Texans may try to run a bit Thursday after watching what the Lions did? Houston came out of Sunday fairly healthy other than rookie No. 3 receiver Keke Coutee, who injured a hamstring and won't play Thursday.
Dolphins at Texans Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Houston is a 7.5-point favorite (+110) with a total of 45.5. On the moneyline, the Texans are -320 and Dolphins +260. On the alternate lines, the Texans are -7 (-110) and -6.5 (-130). Miami is 4-3 against the spread (1-2 on road) and 4-3 "over/under" (0-3 on road). Houston is 2-5 ATS (0-3 at home) and 2-5 O/U (1-2 at home).
The Dolphins are 4-9 ATS in their past 13 vs. teams with a winning record. They are 2-6-1 ATS in their previous nine after a loss. The Texans are 4-0-1 ATS in their past five Week 8 games. The under is 8-1-1 in Miami's past 10 on Thursday. It's 5-0 in Houston's past five after a win and 6-1 in its previous seven against the AFC.
Dolphins at Texans Betting Prediction
This game could be one of the quickest of the year because both teams are going to run it all night, or at least try, out of necessity. Watson clearly isn't close to 100 percent, while the Fins are incredibly thin at wideout. Houston's defense has played much better of late, and I'd imagine the coaching staff knows Osweiler's weaknesses well (there are many) considering he played with Houston 2016.
Take the Texans at -6.5 and go under.
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