Titans vs. Texans Picks and Expert NFL Betting Predictions
Like with how Major League Baseball now schedules every game on the final Sunday of the season at the same time in case there are intertwined postseason fates in multiple games, the NFL also schedules games that are playoff-relevant to each other at the same team in Week 17 wherever possible.
Originally, this game between the Titans and Texans from Houston was to kick off at 1 p.m. ET but has been moved to 4:25 p.m. ET to be opposite two other games with "rooting" interests in Raiders-Broncos and Steelers-Ravens.
Let's start simply with the Texans' motivations: They have none. Houston (10-5) has won the AFC South for the fourth time in five seasons and thus will host a playoff game on Wild-Card Weekend. The Texans are currently the No. 4 seed and can only move up to third if they win this game and Kansas City loses at home to the Chargers, which seems unlikely. Thus, I would expect Houston, which will know what the Chiefs did by the start of this game, to host Buffalo next Saturday or Sunday.
This game means everything for the Titans (8-7). They will win the AFC's second Wild-Card spot with a victory. If they lose and Pittsburgh wins in Baltimore, which like Houston has no motivations at all (Ravens are resting Lamar Jackson and many starters), then the Steelers get it. The Raiders could actually steal the last spot if they win and the Titans and Steelers lose and Colts win in Jacksonville. Somehow, Oakland would then win a four-way tiebreaker of 8-8 teams. Should the Titans win, they most likely would visit Kansas City next weekend. Tennessee also gets a playoff spot with a Steelers loss and Colts loss or tie no matter what the Titans do in this game or what Oakland does.
Titans at Texans Betting Story Lines
Houston clinched the division title last Saturday in an ugly 23-20 win at Tampa Bay. Really shouldn't have been that close considering the Bucs had five turnovers and that Houston jumped out quickly 10-0 on two interceptions of Jameis Winston. His first pass was returned for a score, and the next pick was too but Houston was called for a block in the back and eventually settled for a field goal.
Other than all those turnovers, Tampa Bay was the far better team. It outgained the Texans 435-229 and also forced to two turnovers. At times, it looked like Deshaun Watson was rather gimpy. He was average at best, completing 19 of 32 for 184 yards with a pick and rushing for 37 yards. I don't see any chance Watson plays here. Speedy receiver Will Fuller for sure won't. He left last week's game with a hamstring injury. This offense is a lot different with the injury-plagued Fuller able to stretch the field. Sounds like he will miss at least the first playoff game too. Coach Bill O'Brien has said he plans to rest no healthy starters, but I simply don't believe him.
Obviously, the Titans won't be holding anyone back. Will this be Ryan Tannehill's last game with the franchise? He has been spectacular since taking over for an ineffective Marcus Mariota (he won't be back next year) as the starter in Week 7. The Titans have just three losses since then, although they enter on a two-game skid. On Sunday, Tennessee led a very good Saints team 14-0 after one quarter, but then Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara got going and New Orleans won 38-28. Tannehill was good in throwing for 272 yards and three scores, while Tajae Sharpe caught two TD passes.
What the offense really needed was bulldozing running back Derrick Henry to help chew clock and keep Brees off the field. Alas, Henry, who was competing for a rushing title (not happening now), missed the game due to a hamstring injury. He surely would have played if the division title was still possible, but Houston playing the day before allowed the team to rest Henry. He'll be back for this one. The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner has rushed for a career-high 1,329 yards this season with 13 TDs.
Like Tannehill, Henry is set for free agency in the offseason. Expected that the Titans will slap the franchise tag on Tannehill. I'd imagine the club works something out with Henry. As a matter of policy, Tennessee does not do contract extensions in-season with players.
Titans WR Corey Davis is in the league's concussion protocol, but he hasn't been much of a factor for weeks and has clearly been surpassed by rookie AJ Brown.
Titans at Texans Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, Tennessee is a 5-point favorite (-110) with a total of 45.5. On the moneyline, the Titans are -235 and Texans +195. There are no alternate lines yet. Tennessee is 4-3 against the spread on the road and 4-3 "over/under." Houston is 2-5 ATS at home and 3-4 O/U.
The Titans are 6-1 ATS in their past seven road games vs. teams with a winning home record. They are 2-5-1 ATS in their previous eight following a loss. The Texans are 9-2-1 ATS in their past 12 after an ATS loss. They are 6-2 ATS in their previous eight as an underdog. The over is 8-1 in the Titans' past nine and 5-1 in their previous six as a favorite. The under is 7-1 in Houston's previous eight vs. the AFC South. Tennessee has failed to cover its past five in Houston. The over is 7-1 in the previous eight there.
Titans at Texans Betting Prediction
If it seems like these clubs just played, they did: Houston ended the Titans' four-game winning streak at the time with a 24-21 victory in Nashville in Week 15. The Texans took a 14-0 lead on two Watson to Kenny Stills TD passes in the second quarter and would never trail, but the Titans did tie it early in the fourth before 10 straight Texans points. Tannehill hit Dion Lewis with an 11-yard TD pass with 2:04 left to pull Tennessee within 24-21, but the onside kick failed. Watson had two picks in the red zone, while Carlos Hyde rushed for 104 yards on 26 carries. Henry had 86 yards on 21 carries and Brown caught eight passes for 114 yards and a score.
Like Tennessee to win by a touchdown, something like 24-17. Give the points and go under the total.
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