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Monday, October 1, 2012

NFL Predictions 2012 Week 5: Texans vs Jets

Houston Texans vs New York Jets: HOU -7.5 (5Dimes)


Back in the Summer Cantor had this game at a pick em. Last week the look-ahead line was Texans -4.  After one more week of action, the line re-opened at -7.  That is a big number for a road favorite, especially in a prime-time spot.  The fact that the early money came in convincingly on Houston to move it to -7.5 should tell you all you need to know - this Texans team is no joke and people are cashing in.

Texans Too Much for Vegas: Part II?

Last week I posed the question.  Is it possible to set a proper line for this Houston team?  I might have sprained my shoulder last week by patting myself on the back, but this week I might just dislocate it.  I rarely lay points on a double digit favorite, but with this team I didn't even give it a second thought in Week 4.  They covered with ease and it doesn't seem to matter who the opponent is or where the game is played, this team just dominates.

The 49ers are another team that have outperformed their stats ever since Jim Harbaugh has taken over.  As a result Vegas have had a hard time setting a fair line. Statitically, they should be around -4 favorites against the Bills in Week 5, but the line opened at -10.  Sharp money immediately bet this down to -9 recognizing the inflation.

Yet, the Texans are a different animal.  They don't outperform their stats because they do the little things right or excel on special teams.  They just flat out kick your ass on both sides of the ball.

I've bet the Texans every week thus far and I'm not about to stop until I see a point spread that is absolutely absurd.  Week 5 is not one of those weeks.

No Revis, No Problem?

The Jets one saving grace on the defensive side of the ball has been Darrelle Revis, but he's on the sidelines for the rest of the season.  Chad Millmen ranked Revis as the most valuable defensive player attributing 2.5 points on the line.  The next closest defensive player earned a one point line move rating.  While these numbers are certainly debatable, the point is Revis's absence completely changes the dynamic of a defense.

The stats just don't lie either.  Without Revis on the field, the TD-INT ratio, yards per pass, and completion percentage all go up in favor of opposing offenses.  You can expect Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, and Owen Daniels to take advantage off of their vaunted play-action passing game.

Madden 13?

The Texans have so many mismatches across the board.  The 49ers put up video game numbers against this Jets defense in the run game and now they get an even better rushing team in the Texans. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are once again drooling at the mouth for this matchup.

I'm not saying they are going to put up the same eye-popping numbers, but they'll be able to dictate the game and wear down the Jets in the second half.

In fact, the Jets are well below average in all the important statistical categories - drive success rate, third down/red zone defense, rush/pass defense, and turnover differential.

Texans = Lucky?

Often times when a team puts up the kind of big plays, especially in the turnover category, people will say a regression to the mean is coming.  I agree with this sentiment in general, but not for the Texans.  When I look back at their game-changing plays, I don't see a lot of luck involved.  The team has big-time playmakers on both sides of the ball and a lot of their big plays are coming due to talent, not fortunate bounces.

The scary thing for opponents is those big plays can come from anywhere.  Andre Johnson and Arian Foster can change the game on a single snap.  The same goes for guys like JJ Watt and Antonio Smith up front.  Brooks Reed, Brian Cushing, and Connor Barwin command respect on the second level.  And Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, and Danieal Manning shut things down on the back end.  Even Trindon Holliday is due for a big play on special teams. 

The Texans haven't been on the national stage very often since the start of last season, but some of these guys will start to become household names after they beat the Jets on Monday Night Football.

Can Sanchez Lead a Comeback?

I don't want to spend much time on this situation.  I've never liked Sanchez as a starting quarterback and Tebow is even worse.  Now that Santonio Holmes appears to be on the injured list, things can't get any worse.

Or can they?

If the Texans get the lead in this one like I expect them to, I have no idea how Sanchez is going to lead them back.  It didn't come close to happening vs the 49ers and I see much of the same playing out vs Houston. Perhaps it's not as bad as that game, but once Sanchez starts forcing the issue, the turnovers are going to come.  He better hope his O-line has the game of their lives, too.  Jake Locker found out about that the hard way.

Bottom Line

What number would scare me off the Texans in this game?  -10?  -12?  -14?  I'm not sure, but what I do know is -7.5 isn't a spread that causes me any hesitation.  Normally, a -7 road favorite in prime-time is recipe for trouble, and when you add the hook it's downright dangerous.

Yet, I'm rolling with the Texans until further notice.  Are they due for a letdown?  Absolutely.  Will there be a game where the breaks go against them?  No doubt.  Sooner or later the Texans are not going to cover, but I don't think this is the week it happens.  Even with their 4-0 start, the Texans are striving to be better and they'll finally get the chance to show what they're about under the bright lights of prime-time. 

HOU -7.5.

The rest of my Week 5 predictions are here, or you can find all my 2012 predictions on the home page main menu.

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54-66-0 (-10.31u)
24-26 (+1.5u)
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124-132 (+34.13u)
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6-5 (+5.6)

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