Houston Texans (6-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-6)
The Texans started the season 1-4, but have won 5 of their last 6 games. This is a legitimate team in a generally weak NFL this season, as they rank 7th in rate of moving the chains differential. Brian Hoyer isn’t the best quarterback in the world or anything, but his job is made easy by a defense that ranks 7th in rate of moving the chains allowed. They’ve beaten the Jets and Bengals recently with backup quarterback TJ Yates playing, because of how good their defense has been recently.
They’re also arguably the healthiest team in the NFL, as they don’t have a single player listed as anything lower than probable. Arian Foster is their only key player on injured reserve and he barely played this season, totaling just 390 yards from scrimmage on 74 touches. Jadeveon Clowney being healthy and showing his #1 overall pick talent in recent weeks has been huge for them and they got cornerback Kareem Jackson back from a 4 game absence last week. They’re coming off probably their best defensive performance of the season last week, allowing a Saints offense that ranks 5th in rate of moving the chains to move the chains at a mere 58.33% rate. There’s a very good chance they carry that over into this week, against a much weaker offense.
The Bills, meanwhile, rank 20th in rate of moving the chains differential and have plenty of injuries. Kyle Williams and Percy Harvin are out for the season and have been since week 5 and week 6 respectively. Defensive end Mario Williams returns from a 1 game absence, but he hasn’t played well this season and the Bills are also missing right guard John Miller, right tackle Seantrel Henderson, running back Karlos Williams, and outside linebacker Nigel Bradham. Despite that, they’re favored by 3.5. Given that close to 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less, I’m confident enough in the Texans to put money on them.
Houston Texans 13 Buffalo Bills 10 Upset Pick +150
Pick against the spread: Houston +3.5