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Houston Texans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Point Spread - Pick

Houston Texans (9-5 SU, 7-7 ATS) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7 SU, 5-8-1 ATS)
Week 16 NFL
Date/Time: Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 1PM EST
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
TV: NFL

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: HOU -1/TB +1
Over/Under Total: 53

The Houston Texans take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday in a big week 16 matchup from Raymond James Stadium. Both teams came out on top last week. For the Texans, it was huge, as they got a leg up on the Titans and took over first place in the AFC South. They now look to cement their status, but it won't be easy. In taking to the road against Tampa, the Texans will be facing a team that has really done an about-face in a very low-key way. On Sunday, with a lopsided 38-17 road-win over Detroit, the Bucs won their fourth game in a row and now at .500, are feeling pretty good about themselves.

The way the Bruce Arians-led Bucs are delivering is a bit startling considering how ragged they looked in the first half of the season. Their offense is starting to peak in recent weeks, as is the whole team. There are many teams who are playoff-bound who wish they were hitting their peak like how Tampa is heading into the last few games of the season. And in a top-heavy NFC playoff picture, that isn't in the cards for the Buccaneers, but it doesn't seem to matter. The Bucs are out there giving a good effort, showing the energy of a young long-suffering team that has finally stumbled onto something good.

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Again, a big part of the Tampa winning formula is their offense, and more specifically, their aerial attack. With another four touchdowns on Sunday along with 458 yards, Tampa QB Jameis Winston is officially on fire with over 900 yards and 8 TDs in his last two games. Interceptions are always an unfortunate byproduct of Winston taking to the air with such gusto, but at this point it's a tradeoff the Bucs are willing to accept. With Chris Godwin and Mike Evans having both been in the running for the receiving yards title this season, this part of their offense was enough to dizzy opposing defenses. You just have to wonder with Godwin hurting his hammy and Evans indefinitely out, if the others will pick up the slack, Their run-game is often somewhat silent and that offensive line isn't great and might suffer in this spot against the Texans' front-seven. But with Winston connecting left and right with his dangerous targets, it's not exactly music to the ears of a Houston secondary that hasn't always thrived. Still, with Tampa's recent success coming against some dicey defenses, we'll see how well it translates in this spot against a Houston bunch that has a lot to play for. A big part of that will be based on whether other Tampa receivers can step in and with the next best options all at less than 300 yards, that's not automatic.

The Tampa defense lags behind the offense in terms of overall promise. They have fared well against some of the lower-end offenses they've played, like last week against a spiraling Lions' team. But the week before that, they gave up 35 to Indy, while allowing only 11 to the Jags the week before that. Being at home hasn't really helped in terms of point allowance. Still, the pass-rush is immense at times, led by Shaquil Barrett. In the front, they also have Jason Pierre-Paul, along with Ndamukong Suh. It's in the back where they suffer, with one of the worst secondary units in the conference. On top of that, they don't make a lot of big plays, with only six picks this season for Tampa DBs.

Beating Tennessee on the road in a key divisional matchup was big for the Texans on Sunday. They now control their destiny and hone in on winning the division. With five wins in their last seven games, they are an imperfect team, but one that is making it work. The Titans made it close in the end after the Texans built a two-touchdown lead in the first half. They will face Tennessee again in a few weeks, so getting the edge was crucial. They need to keep on winning. And this isn't easy, in an out-of-context NFC stadium against a team with whom they have no real connection.

The Houston offense saw a familiar recipe for success manifest against Tennessee, though more second-half fireworks would have been nice. When you win as dogs in a big game on the road, however, you can't really complain. Deshaun Watson threw two picks, which almost proved to be really costly. Other than that, he worked well with DeAndre Hopkins going over 100 yards, with Will Fuller chipping in with some big catches. Kenny Stills caught two TD grabs and with over 100 yards from RB Carlos Hyde, it was enough. But against a Tampa squad that has been putting up a lot of points, we'll see if it's sufficient in this spot.

For the most part, the Houston defense has been quite serviceable. Among their highlights in the last 6 weeks were giving up three to Jacksonville, 17 to Indy, 22 to the Patriots, and 21 to a home-Titans bunch on Sunday. The week before that, however, they gave up an alarming 38 to the Broncos, while being one of many teams to be splattered by the Ravens a few weeks back, as well. They did some nice things against Tennessee that they'd like to do here. Big Whitney Mercilus returned a pick 86 yards and they were pretty rigid, at least in the first half. But that secondary does stand out as a major sticking-point for this "D," especially in this spot.

Other than an early-season win over the Rams, none of Tampa's wins have come against winning teams. In other words, they could be looking a little better than they actually are. Playing a team with a lot on the line has a way of making a team's weaknesses stand out more and for Tampa it's a lack of balance of offense and a secondary that threatens to upend the entire operation, not to mention their woes in the receiver department personnel-wise. I still see them having enough firepower at home to hang in there against a Houston team that is hardly bankable. I'll take the Bucs.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus one point. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Texans-Bucs game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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