Houston Texans (1-5) at Arizona Cardinals (6-0)
The Texans won their week one game and were tied 10-10 with the Browns at halftime in week two, but that changed when quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was playing at a high enough level to mask a lot of the flaws on this roster, got injured and was replaced by raw rookie Davis Mills. Since Mills’ insertion into the lineup, all of this team’s flaws have been magnified and they have been made worse by the loss of arguably their best player, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, for an extended period of time.
Overall, the Texans have been outscored 137-41 since Mills took over the starting job and that’s even worse if you take out a 25-22 loss to the Patriots in a game in which the Patriots were missing most of their offensive line but still won the first down rate battle by 8.67%. Their other three full games with Mills have been losses by an average score of 27.7 points, including a 31-3 loss last week to an underwhelming Colts team that was missing its two best offensive linemen.
Now the Texans have to go to Arizona to face the NFL’s last undefeated team. The Cardinals may not be the best team in the league and have had a few things break their way to allow them to still be undefeated, but they’re definitely one of the top teams in the league. This line is high at 18, but I don’t think it’s high enough, as my calculated line has the Cardinals favored by 23. That doesn’t mean I am betting them though, as there are a lot of things that can go wrong with betting a huge favorite, hence why favorites of 17+ are just 15-24 ATS over the past thirty seasons.
The Cardinals are also in a bad spot, as they have to turn around and play a much tougher game against the Packers next week, which will be made even tougher by the fact that it’s on a short week. Favorites cover at just a 41.5% rate all-time before Thursday Night Football, while favorites of 7+ cover at just a 42.7% rate all-time before facing a team with a winning percentage that is over 50% higher than their current opponent’s winning percentage, both of which should work against the Cardinals this week.
Overall, this game is sandwiched between matchups against the Rams, 49ers, and Browns and matchups against the Packers and 49ers for the Cardinals. That makes it hard to see them bringing their best effort for this game against arguably the worst team in the league, but the talent gap between these two teams is so big that it might not even matter, so the Cardinals are still the pick for pick ‘em purposes, even as massive favorites.
Arizona Cardinals 31 Houston Texans 10
Pick against the spread: Arizona -18