Houston Texans (9-6; 6-8-1 ATS; 6-9 O/U) vs. Tennessee Titans (8-7; 6-9 ATS; 10-5 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 1:00pm EST
Line: Tennessee -3
The Tennessee Titans will host the AFC South division champion Houston Texans in a divisional battle Sunday afternoon from Nissan Stadium. The Texans edged the Bengals 12-10 last week, and the Titans were steamrolled 38-17 by the Jaguars last Saturday. The Texans defeated the Titans 27-20 in week four. Houston rushed for 115 yards as a team, and the Titans rushed for 124 yards.
Texans Clinch Playoff Spot in Win Over Bengals
The Houston Texans stumbled offensively but were able to clinch a playoff spot after the Bengals missed a potential game-winning 43 yard field goal with no time left on the clock. Tom Savage got the start in place of the struggling Brock Osweiler and had a tough time, completing 18 of 29 passes for only 176 yards with no touchdowns, and did not throw any interceptions. Savage has now played two weeks in a row and has yet to throw a touchdown, but to his credit he has also not tossed an interception, which is an improvement over Osweiler who threw 16 interceptions. Lamar Miller sat out due to an ankle injury and could see some carries next week, but if he does play he will not see a heavy workload. Alfred Blue saw a bulk of the carries last week and was solid, rushing for 73 yards off 21 carries. DeAndre Hopkins was quiet once again, making three catches for 43 yards, and has now recorded 831 rushing yards on the season, which will be his lowest total since his rookie season. This game does not have much meaning for the Texans, and will likely give their reserves playing time to avoid injury. Houston is averaging 17.5 points per game, placing them down at 29th in the NFL.
The Texans defense was outstanding in the win over the Bengals, allowing only 218 total yards and did not allow a trip to the red zone the entire game. Benardrick McKinney made seven tackles and has now made 128 tackles on the year, ranking him eighth in the NFL. The Texans are now allowing an average of 20.3 points per game, good for tenth in the NFL.
Titans Eliminated from Playoff Contention
The Tennessee Titans needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive but were routed 38-17 by the Jaguars last Saturday. Marcus Mariota struggled, throwing for only 99 yards with one touchdown and in the loss before going down with a fractured ankle late in the third quarter, and he will not play in this contest. The Titans have to be happy with the season their young quarterback had as he showed great progression from his rookie year, throwing for 3426 yards with a 26:16 TD to INT ratio. Matt Cassel will get the start in Mariota’s place in this contest after throwing for 124 yards with one touchdown and one interception last week. Last week was the first time Cassel has seen any extended action since throwing five touchdowns with seven interceptions last year with the Cowboys. The Titans could not get their running game going in the loss either, rushing for a team total of 42 yards off 14 carries with DeMarco Murray leading the way with 42 rushing yards. Murray had a great year, rushing for over 1266 yards, the second-highest total of his career. The Titans showed great improvement over last year’s three win season and have to be confident going into next season. Tennessee is scoring an average of 23.8 points per game, placing them 13th overall.
The Titans defense struggled in the loss to the Jaguars, conceding 325 passing yards to Blake Bortles, and allowed 415 total yards which is well above their average. Tennessee have been very effective at stopping the run but struggled to defend the pass, and are now conceding an average of 24.1 points per game, placing them 21st in the NFL.
The Houston Texans are:
- 8-1-1 ATS last 10 vs. AFC South.
- 6-2-2 ATS last 10 in Week 17.
The Tennessee Titans are:
- 1-5-1 ATS last 7 in January.
- 6-21-1 ATS last 29 home games.
I like the Texans with the points in this contest. The Titans are without Marcus Mariota and I definitely can’t trust Matt Cassel who has seen minimal action this season. The Texans own the second ranked pass defense, conceding an average of only 206 passing yards per game so they should completely shut down Cassell. The Texans have also been decent at stopping the run so they should slow down DeMarco Murray as well. Also, I feel Texans quarterback Tom Savage will feel he has something to prove heading into the Playoffs, so I expect a solid performance from him.
Pick: Houston Texans +3
The Texans defense should do a good job containing Matt Cassel as they have continually stifled opponents passing games all season, and the under is 5-0 in their last 5 games overall after an ATS loss. The Texans themselves are not a high scoring team and we will not see much, or any of Lamar Miller at running back for Houston, so this has the makings of a low scoring contest. The under has hit in four out of Houston’s last five games and I think that trend continues in this one.