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Miami Dolphins vs. Houston Texans Point Spread - Pick

Miami Dolphins (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (4-3 SU, 2-5 ATS)
Week 8 NFL
Date/Time: Thursday Night Football, October 25, 2018 at 8:20PM EDT
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
TV: Fox

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: MIA +7/HOU -7
Over/Under Total: 45

The Miami Dolphins come to NRG Stadium to take on the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football. Both teams enter this matchup at 4-3, with this being a fork in the road, of sorts. After all, 5-3 is a lot better than 4-4. Houston overcame an 0-3 start this season and is riding high after four straight wins. Last Sunday's was their most impressive to date, with a 20-7 win over the Jaguars giving them the lead in the AFC South, an amazing development considering how it all started. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have slid some after a 3-0 start and are coming off a tough home-loss to Detroit on Sunday, 32-21. They could really put some wind in their sails this week with a big win on the road.

You have to give it to the Texans for having the broad view of things, taking it as it comes, and rebuilding a season that started off looking like a bad one. To be in first place with more than half of the season still to be played is remarkable in a lot of ways. A lot of things are coming together. One thing that stands out is a better overall vibe and energy. Then we see a defense getting back to its prior form across a few different areas. The pass-rush is kicking in more. The secondary, which had looked ragged early, is back in a groove. They've allowed a total of 36 points in the last three games. In the last two games, they've gotten six takeaways. They're making plays and becoming more-rigid as the season wears on.

Sunday also saw some positive developments on the Houston offense, with Lamar Miller going for 100 yards. Against a Miami defense that just gave up a rushing bonanza to Detroit of all teams, it could be a big factor again this Thursday. Naturally, this offense has been forced to rely heavily on Deshaun Watson. Sure, he has a nice receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, who made an incredible catch on Sunday. But there's not much else, so they're looking for Miller to contribute more, in addition to guys like Will Fuller, V, Alfred Blue, and others. Watson was pretty subdued on Sunday, with only 139 yards through the air. But he threw a score, and for the first time this season didn't have any picks.

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One would like to think the Houston secondary has started to find its stride. Certainly, the return of Andre Hal on Sunday has to give this group an extra boost, as the star safety has bounced back so heroically from cancer. That gives them another dimension and playmaker. Tyrann Mathieu had a pick on Sunday and also had a sack, with Whitney Mercillus getting one and Jadeveon Clowney adding two. JJ Watt has 7 sacks. All of the Houston playmakers are starting to congeal and maybe time was the answer for a group that didn't hit the ground running. Now they have momentum and could be a hard team to dissuade, especially for a group like Miami that is struggling to stay afloat after a fast start.

You have to wonder if Miami can reverse their course. Like Houston, it has been a topsy-turvy 7 games, just in a different way. A 3-0 start has evaporated some, with an OT win at home over the Bears their only triumph over the last month. Getting run over by the Lions at home isn't a good sign. Injuries certainly haven't helped and now they've lost receiver Albert Wilson and TE Mike Gesicki, with Kenny Stills also seen limping on Sunday. Devante Parker is also banged up, leaving them thin aerially. And now Parker's agent is mouthing off about head coach Adam Gase, making it all seem like it's going downhill for the 'Fins. Their starting QB Ryan Tannehill is banged-up and they might be starting Brock Osweiler a third straight week.

Osweiler wasn't bad on Sunday on paper, going 22-for-31 for 239 yards and two touchdowns. The offense wasn't electric by any means, but after beating Chicago the previous week, it's not clear how much a drop-off it is from Tannehill to Osweiler at this point. They are just so depleted with all the aerial targets missing. At least they saw Danny Amendola get involved more on Sunday, as he's been under-utilized this season. RB Kenyan Drake can be mistake-prone, but is still an explosive player, as he showed on Sunday.

As one would suspect when giving up almost 250 yards to a Detroit team that never seems to run the ball well, defense has been a problem with the Dolphins. The Lions ran absolutely wild, with Kerryon Johnson rushing for 158 yards, LeGarrette Blount getting a TD, and Golden Tate taking a long end-around for 30 yards. The secondary wasn't able to stop Stafford, who was 18-for-22 with two TDs. After giving up 52 total points in their first three games, they have given up 135 points in their last four.

Osweiler should be pining to do well against his former team, as he started the whole 2016 season with the Texans. And maybe things aren't as dire as it's been painted for Miami. They lost two on the road, before beating the Bears and falling to the surging Lions at home. It's a bad patch, but not one that should suggest a total collapse. And while Houston is on the rise, I personally like them more when they're sneaking up on people, as opposed to this role as big home favorites. I like what Houston is doing and maybe Miami is on the slide, but that doesn't mean I'm prepared to take the Texans as TD favorites against above-.500 teams. I'll take the Dolphins.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Miami Dolphins plus 7 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Miami vs. Houston game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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