Tennessee Titans (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Week 4 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: TEN +6.5/HOU -6.5
Over/Under Total: 40.5
The Tennessee Titans come to NRG Stadium to face the Houston Texans in an AFC South battle on Sunday. Both teams are opening their division schedule and look to get off to a good start. The Texans get a little extra rest having played on Thursday Night Football, though it wasn't a very restful experience with the Texans getting shut out by the Patriots, 27-0. That doesn't undo the first two weeks of the season where they won and covered each week by beating Chicago and Kansas City. Still, they don't have a "gimme" this week, hosting an irritated Tennessee team that fell to 1-2 with a 17-10 loss to the Raiders on Sunday. Getting back to .500 is key for this team and they hope to catch a Texans team that is still smarting from last Thursday.
This game carries some extra importance for the Texans. After beating Chicago and especially by beating former tormentor Kansas City, who knocked them out of the playoffs last season in a 30-0 wipeout, they came crashing down in week 3. They've been shut out in 2 of their last 4 games going back to last year. And that's a problem against better defenses, where their offense can be rendered a bit moot. With 23 and 19 points scored in their first two games, followed by the shutout, it's taking some time for a revamped offense to get clicking.
Against New England, the Patriots really focused on WR DeAndre Hopkins, leaving Brock Osweiler with minimal options. After two straight 100-yard games to start his career, WR Will Fuller only caught three passes for 31 yards. Osweiler was unable to find the end zone and threw a pick, giving him 4 on the young season. Against New England, RB Lamar Miller ran for 80 yards on 21 carries and all of those yards were hard-earned. Maybe he can get rolling in week 4 after laboring so hard against the Pats. The issue for the Texans is that their offense is very top-heavy, with little outside of Miller, Hopkins, and the rookie Fuller. And with Osweiler still only having ten NFL starts, he's an unproven commodity who still hasn't dealt with a lot of the different curveballs this league can throw you. Against the Patriots, he looked lost at sea and while he is certainly an overall upgrade upon last season's QB-picture, this offense will likely remain a somewhat-subdued bunch that relies on the defense.
Strung out by an ineffective offense, the defense wasn't really able to do its thing on Thursday. After giving up 26 combined points in their first two games, they gave up 27 to a New England team working with their third-string QB. Still, giving up 282 total yards to the Pats at home isn't that bad. They were not good against the run, with LeGarrette Blount having a big game and QB Jacoby Brissett running for a big touchdown. At home, it can be a different story with this defense. Up-front, look for Vince Wilfork and Whitney Mercillus to be making a difference, though having JJ Watt get put on IR is a step back for the line and the whole defense. In the middle, Bernardrick McKinney has been improving in his second season, though losing Brian Cushing was a bad blow. And through three games, they have given up only 454 yards passing.
There are some different pieces in place from last season for the Titans and Texans. In addition, Tennessee has made a lot of offseason moves, while youngsters are a year older, namely Titans' QB Marcus Mariota. Still, Houston was able to hold the Titans to a combined 12 points in their two divisional games last season. Again, how much that matters is debatable, but this Titans team will need to produce a big effort to derail a Houston team that would hate to fall to 2-2 after a 2-0 start.
Against the Raiders, the Tennessee defense again did its job, holding Oakland to a very reasonable 17 points, not bad considering three turnovers, including a pair of Mariota interceptions. In 3 games, they've given up 57 points and just 32 in the last two against good offenses in Detroit and Oakland. And holding a burgeoning young offense like Oakland's to just 17 points and even managing to hold them scoreless over the final half of play just enhances the notion that the Titans' offseason moves really paid off on this side of the ball. Again, it was the offense that didn't do its job against an Oakland offense that had given up 1035 yards in their first two games.
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The Tennessee offense didn't have much to celebrate on Sunday. There was a force-field around the end zone for them on Sunday, with any number of different drives dying. Converting 2 of 12 third downs didn't help, nor did the pair of Mariota picks. The only positive development on offense was the continued production of DeMarco Murray, who ran for 114 yards and a TD, while also catching 5 balls. He's beginning to look like the player from 2014 and not last season in his disappointing campaign in Philly. Rookie and 2015 Heisman winner Derrick Henry continues to provide nice accompaniment to Murray, as he added 45 yards. But the Oakland "D" had Mariota in knots for much of the game, as he also coughed up a fumble.
Both teams will be pining for a win after losses that were bad for a variety of reasons for both squads in week three. The Titans will be looking to jump-start their offense after a futile week three performance. Houston, meanwhile, looks to put the New England loss behind them, get their offense untracked, and benefit from this being at home. And I see them doing that against a team they match up well with. I'm taking the home team.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Houston Texans minus 6.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up to bet the Tennessee vs. Houston game from the comfort of your own home at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!