Houston Texans (10-1) at Tennessee Titans (4-7)
Tennessee may be 4-7, which isn’t a terrible record, but they are a terrible team. Of their 7 losses, 5 have come by 21 or more points and only one of their wins came by more than a field goal. Because of this, they are -97 in points differential. Only Philadelphia, Oakland, Jacksonville, and Kansas City are worse. Going off of this, they rank 30th in net points per drive, 29th in DVOA, and 29th in weighted DVOA. They are a team just as bad as the Eagles, Raiders, Chiefs, and Jaguars. In fact, last week they lost to the Jaguars even though they had a trend that was 22-3 ATS since 2002 on their side and the Jaguars had one that was 18-45 ATS since 2002 on their side. They’re terrible.
The Texans, meanwhile, are one of the better teams in the NFL. They rank 3rd in net points per drive and 8th in DVOA and weighted DVOA. If we use the net points per drive method of computing line value, which takes the difference between the two teams’ net points per drives and multiplies by 11 (the average amount of drives per game) and adds 3 points either way for homefield, we get that Houston should actually be -14 point favorites here on the road.
Now, the difference between where these two teams rank in DVOA is slightly smaller than the difference between where these two teams rank in net points per drive, which matters because DVOA is net points per drive based, but takes into account other things like strength of schedule. However, it’s not enough to make up for the fact that we’re getting 7 points of line value with the Texans. Besides, after going to overtime with 2 inferior teams, I think the Texans are due for a big win. Remember when they played the Jets close as double digit favorites and then lost at home to the Packers? The next week they blasted Baltimore, who isn’t nearly as bad as Tennessee.
There are 3 trends in Tennessee’s favor. Home dogs off a loss as road favorites are 49-36 ATS since 1989, 11-6 ATS if both games are divisional. As I mentioned, the Titans lost in Jacksonville last week as road favorites. Meanwhile, teams are 27-46 ATS before being dogs on Monday Night football since 2008. The Texans go to New England for a Monday Night game next week and might overlook these crappy Titans for that game. Besides, their last 3 games are against Minnesota and Indianapolis twice, so this is their last easy game. Meanwhile, road favorites of 7 or more are 8-23 ATS before being dogs since 2002.
This isn’t a good spot for the Texans. They are also a very, very heavy public lean, which is always a warning flag. The public always loses money in the long run, so I like to fade the public as often as I can. The odds makers know what they’re doing, so it’s not a bad idea to want to be on their side as often as possible. However, we’re getting so much line value with the Texans and they have every reason to be focused after two near losses to inferior opponents. They should be the right side.
Public lean: Houston (90% range)
Sharps lean: HOU 23 TEN 5
Final update: Very interestingly, the sharps all really like San Francisco, Houston, and New England as touchdown favorites inside the division. Those might be the top-3 teams in the NFL, so it makes sense and the fact that the sharps love them kind of negates the heavy public leans. I don’t want to go higher than 3 on any of them because, on principle, I rarely make big plays on lines higher than a touchdown (what happened between San Francisco and Seattle earlier this year is a perfect example of why), but I can up this one and the San Francisco one to 2 units. New England is already there.
Houston Texans 27 Tennessee Titans 17
Pick against spread: Houston -7 (-110) 2 units