It took a while for the status of Marcus Mariota to be updated enough for odds to be posted, for the Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans, the final game of Week 12 on NFL Monday Night Football. The oddsmakers have spoken and the Titans are listed as a six-point underdog against the surging Houston Texans. It wasn’t pretty against the Redskins, but the Texans won their seventh game in a row and are poised for eight straight as a comfortable favorite on Monday Night Football.
Tennessee Titans +6 +245 ov 41.5
Houston Texans -6 -275 un 41.5
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Stats Tennessee Titans
Chalk it up to inconsistency, the fact that the Titans are one of several teams that look dramatically different week to week. After outright upsets against the Jaguars and Eagles, people were tripping over themselves to hop on the Titans bandwagon. They all came back down to Earth after the three-game losing streak against Buffalo, Baltimore, and the Chargers. After the bye, the Titans beat Dallas outright and New England outright to flip the narrative again. Then a blowout loss to the Colts, and the Titans have certainly earned their .500 record at 5-5. They are 6-4 against the spread and 7-3 to the under.
To put it nicely, Tennessee’s offense is not good. New offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur may not have the right personnel or the right quarterback. Marcus Mariota’s offense is one of four with less than five yards per play this season. Some of that has to do with play distribution, as the Titans have run the football 289 times against just 280 pass attempts, but a lot of it has to do with a lack of efficiency. Leading rushers Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry both have less than four yards per carry. Corey Davis is the only wide receiver with more than 22 receptions. Titans QBs have a 10/8 TD/INT ratio. The slow and methodical pace has helped keep games close, but the lack of efficiency is why the Titans are 5-5.
The defense has played well for DC Dean Pees and head coach Mike Vrabel. An examination of the statistical body of work for the Titans does, however, suggest some regression.
Stats Houston Texans
The Texans opted not to fire Bill O’Brien after the 0-3 start and now over the last two months that seat has cooled down significantly. The Texans lead the AFC South Division at 7-3 straight up, but just 4-5-1 against the spread on the year. The under is 6-4 in Houston’s 10 games. This is only O’Brien’s fifth season at the helm, but this has been a one-sided rivalry dating back to 2010. The Texans are 11-6 straight up and 12-5 against the spread in the last 17 meetings. The Titans, however, have won three of the last four games, including the Week 2 matchup.
A lot of people believe that the Texans are doing this with smoke and mirrors. Deshaun Watson has four fourth-quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives on the season. Houston is 29th in red zone efficiency and 30th in defensive red zone efficiency, but the team is falling on the right side of games more often than not. Watson is also making a lot of plays with his legs, as he has 275 yards on 53 carries. That is usually a matchup advantage against most teams, but since the Titans face a mobile quarterback in Mariota every day in practice, that edge may be neutralized. It does also help to have DeAndre Hopkins, who remains one of the league’s most underrated receivers with 68 grabs for 950 yards. The overall body of work for the Texans does lack some punch, as the offense has been held under 325 yards in four of the last five games.
On defense JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney have combined for 16.5 of the 28 sacks that the defense has racked up this season.
GRAPHIC: Picks & Predictions: SU Winner – Houston, ATS Winner – Tennessee, O/U – Under 41.5 pts
These are two teams that bettors have a lot of reasons to fade or stay away from, but it’s Monday Night Football and it is as American as apple pie to bet on the last game of the week. Houston’s offensive woes make the team a scary proposition to back in a big favorite role, so we’ll look for the Texans to win the game, but fail to cover the six-point spread.
Eight of Houston’s 10 games have been decided by a touchdown or less, so they are very much accustomed to playing close games. Six of Tennessee’s first seven games were close finals, but the last three weeks have all been decided in blowout fashion. Expect two division rivals with a lot of familiarity to stick right with each other and also for the under to be in play with Tennessee’s slow pace and strong defense.