Friday, August 16, 2013

NFL Preseason Predictions 2013: Dolphins vs Texans [UPDATED]

Miami Dolphins vs Houston Texans: HOU -3 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

This game opened up with the Texans as -2.5 point favorites. It didn't take too long until it was bet up to -3, but we are even seeing some -3.5's on the board. I'm not sure why this line isn't a bit higher given the matchup and the various factors involved, but we could see some more movement on gameday.

Coaching/Motivation

Last season Joe Philbin coached his way to a perfect 0-4 straight up/against the spread record. So far this year he's 1-1, but it's too early to say he's changed his mindset.

Gary Kubiak has shown a much greater propensity to win games in the exhibition season. He's 17-12 straight up and 16-10-3 against the spread.  Over the last two seasons he's 6-2 ATS and 4-0 in the opening two weeks. He's done a great job building a winning culture in this organization (even if they do choke down the stretch). Even last week when all indications were that he was going to mail it in vs the Vikings, they found a way to stay competitve and seal a victory in the 4th quarter.

Quarterbacks

Of course one of the reasons why Houston did come out on top in Week 1 was due in large part to their QB situation. Matt Schaub is the clear starter (at least for this year) and behind him is a quasi-QB competition with two solid options.

T.J. Yates has made pretty good strides in his young career thus far. He has experience under his belt and knows this offense well. He continues to make questionable reads at times, but it's good to know he's getting the third string role in this game. If things get dicey and they need a drive or two, he can deliver.

The wild card is Case Keenum. He's had a really strong overall camp and had a really good performance against the Vikings. Kubiak is giving him backup duties in this game to push forward his development. He's not really going to challenge Yates for the backup role come the regular season, but a couple more good outings could make it a more serious topic of conversation.

The Dolphins are set with their top two options. Tannehill had a better rookie season than expected and will look to build on his progress this year.  Matt Moore is only 28 and has 25 starts to his name, but he seems to have settled into a role as a career backup. He could've gone to a handful of other teams with unsettled starters, but decided to resign with Miami.

There are two primary issues with this group heading into this game. First is the third QB spot. Pat Devlin is out, which means Aaron Corp will get the call to wrap things up. He did not look good in practice this week.

Noteworthy

The other main issues is how Tannehill will handle snaps behind a shaky offensive line. I still don't understand the decision to sign Mike Wallace and let Jake Long go. It doesn't really matter how much of a deep threat Wallace is if Tannehill doesn't have time to get him the ball. In fact, last season Tannehill ranked 29ths out of 29 quarterbacks when faced with pressure.

Jonathan Martin is going to square off against J.J. Watt. Yet the problems don't end there. All of the Texans starters on defense are slated to play, with the exception of Ed Reed. This is bad news for Miami offensive line and everyone else on that side of the ball.  That needs to improve if Miami expects to compete with above-average teams.

For the Texans offense, continue to keep an eye on DeAndre Hopkins. This kid has serious game and could push for rookie of the year consideration if he can take advantage of favorable coverage opposite Andre Johnson. The Dolphins have revamped their secondary and this will be a great test for them. I really like Brent Grimes, but Dimitri Patterson and Richard Marshall are still question marks.

3rd overall pick Dion Jordan has not been practicing and is unlikely to start.

Bottom Line

I really like the changes the Texans made this offseason. They come into this matchup with greater overall depth throughout the lineup - especially at the QB position.

The injury to Pat Devlin could very well decide this game in the second half as T.J. Yates is more than equipped to win that battle. I like the offensive line of the Texans much more than the Dolphins too - which should be a contributing factor with how these QBs perform.

I'll gladly take Kubiak at home.

NFL Pick: HOU -3