Houston Texans (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS)
Week 5 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: HOU +6.5/MIN -6.5
Over/Under Total: 40
The Houston Texans come into U.S. Bank Stadium to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. These teams have won 7 of 8 games, while also failing to cover just one spread on the season. The Vikings are unbeaten, following a MNF win over the Giants, 24-10. They look to keep it rolling this week against a Houston team that is 3-1 and beat the Titans on Sunday, 27-20. Houston could really lend some credence to their season with a win over the Vikes this Sunday.
This is the Vikings third game at home and they've looked good in their new digs, beating the Packers and then dominating the Giants in week four. But maybe Houston is being overlooked. With their three wins buried in the schedule and with not a lot of people watching, the only memory many have of the Texans this season is a Thursday Night Football shutout loss to the Jacoby Brissett-led Patriots, 27-0. Basing our view on the Texans based on that result could send us off-course, with the Texans winning and covering in their other three games.
Still, after beating the Bears, Chiefs, and Titans, the Texans face a tough task against the Vikings at home. If someone told you the Vikings would be without Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson and still be unbeaten, you'd have been highly suspicious. When Bridgewater went down, people were pretty quick to relegate the Vikes to the scrap heap. But they aggressively sought a quality replacement and maybe some of us forgot how effective Sam Bradford can be when healthy and allowed to get into a groove.
With Mike Zimmer being a defensive mastermind, of sorts, the Minnesota defense is proving to be a handful this season. The other team's most dangerous weapons are being shut down. On Sunday against the Giants, CB Xavier Rhodes held Odell Beckham, Jr. to 3 catches and 23 yards of production. Against good quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, and Eli Manning, this defense kept them all in-check. They're getting a robust pass-rush, aided by Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, and Danielle Hunter. The secondary is deep and a difference-making group, having secured six interceptions, while their own offense has yielded zero picks. This defense has secured five recovered fumbles, with the Vikes only losing one on the season. Throw in a few defensive scores and we see a defense that is very balanced and dependable from week-to-week.
Granted, the Vikings are more of a defensive-heavy team, but their offense is resourceful and gets the most of what they have. They really can't run the ball with much umph, as Jerick McKinnon is now their starting back, with Matt Asiata adding relief. And their receiver package won't strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses, led by Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen, and TE Kyle Rudolph. But with Bradford working the short pass and not making mistakes, they've ridden what looks like a no-frills offense to a 4-0 record.
What makes this matchup a little more problematic for the Vikings is that with Houston, they're playing a team that prides itself on defense. This will probably be the toughest unit they've played this season. With that Vikes; offense and a point spread to cover, will they be able to put up points? The Texans' defense lost JJ Watt for the season, but are still a handful, particularly against the pass, where opposing quarterbacks are getting very little. We may see Bradford tested more this week. And if the Texans start getting turnovers, it could be trouble. Minnesota could try to make the run-game work, but they just lack the horses to do it.
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The Houston offense could get better. QB Brock Osweiler has been showing signs of improvement, but his interception proclivity needs to be addressed, particularly against the secondary he's preparing to play. So far, the passing game has been under achieving. With DeAndre Hopkins and the performance of rookie Will Fuller, Osweiler has a dynamic 1-2 combo punch at receiver. Lamar Miller has given them a viable option at running back. But unlike Minnesota, who seems to get the most of what they have, Houston hasn't figured out how to maximize their assets.
This is a tough spot for the Texans, having to come all the way up north to take on the Vikes in front of what should be a pumped-up home throng. The Vikings haven't done anything big in years and the long-thirsting Minnesota fans are starting to smell something special developing. I could be off here, but laying almost a TD on this team against a defense like Houston's could result in an uphill battle. In a defensive battle, I'd like to have the points.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Houston Texans plus 6.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Houston vs. Minnesota game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!