Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-12-1) at Tennessee Titans (7-7)

The Titans started the season 7-3, but have since fallen back to earth with four straight losses, leaving them in a battle for a playoff spot, even in the weakest division in the AFC. That’s not all that surprising though, as the Titans’ wins were never that impressive. Their only win against a team that is 6-8 or better right now came against the Commanders, who are 7-6-1 now, but were just 1-4 when they were starting Carson Wentz against the Titans. On top of that, all of the Titans’ wins have been close, with several that could have gone either way. 

Only two of the Titans’ wins have come by more than a touchdown and neither win was as impressive as that suggests, as they needed a defensive touchdown to push the margin to 9 against the Colts, while their 10-point win over the Packers came against a team in a terrible spot, playing on a short week after an overtime game, a spot in which teams are just 2-22 ATS all-time. Meanwhile, the Titans’ seven losses have come by a combined 84 points, leading to an underwhelming -38 point differential, despite a below average schedule. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Titans are even worse, ranking 30th at -6.25.

The Titans are also extremely banged up, which has been a problem for them for most of the season, but things have gone from bad to worse recently. Already without talented left tackle Taylor Lewan for the season, the Titans will also be missing their other two best offensive linemen, center Ben Jones and right guard Nate Davis, this week, while quarterback Ryan Tannehill is out after reaggravating an ankle injury that cost him two games earlier this season, forcing raw rookie backup Malik Willis into action, after he struggled mightily to move the ball through the air in his previous stint as the starter. 

The Titans’ defense will get back top edge defender Denico Autry, starting safety Amani Hooker, and possibly every down linebacker Zach Cunningham this week, but they remain without four expected week one starters, edge defender Harold Landry, linebacker David Long, and cornerbacks Kristian Fulton and Elijah Molden. Their defense isn’t in horrible shape, but their offense looks like one of the weaker in the league with a backup quarterback throwing to an underwhelming receiving corps with basically all of his capable offensive linemen injured.

Luckily, the Titans are facing the Texans, who have the worst record in the league at 1-12-1, but the Texans have been more competitive than that suggests. If you exclude games started by horrendous backup Kyle Allen, the Texans have just three losses by more than 10 points and four losses by more than one-score this season, so they’ve been competitive most of their games, as long as Allen isn’t the starter. They still rank dead last in schedule adjusted efficiency, but not by a wide margin and they’re only a half-point behind the Titans in that metric.

The Texans are also going in the opposite direction injury wise, getting talented edge defender Jonathan Greenard back from a 9-game absence last week and getting top cornerback Steven Nelson and top wide receiver Brandin Cooks back this week, from absences of 2 games and 4 games respectively. With the Titans missing a significant amount of talent and starting an unproven backup quarterback, the Texans actually have a half point edge over them in my roster rankings.

Unfortunately, we’re not getting great line value with the Texans, as this line has dropped all the way down to three in the wake of all of the Titans’ injuries, most notably Tannehill’s absence. However, we are still getting some line value, as I would consider these two teams about even and the Titans are also in a tough spot, having to play a much tougher game on short rest next week on Thursday Night Football, a spot in which favorites cover at just a 43.2% rate. 

The bad spot the Titans are in may be somewhat offset by the Titans having to play with a backup quarterback, which usually makes a team more focused, but it’s also very possible the Titans overlook their 1-win opponent this week, which could easily result in the Texans doubling that win total. Even if they can’t pull the outright upset, I think there’s enough here for the Texans to be worth betting at this number.

Tennessee Titans 17 Houston Texans 16

Pick against the spread: Houston +3

Confidence: Medium

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) at Houston Texans (1-11-1)

This line is high, favoring the Chiefs on the road by 14, but the Chiefs are arguably the best team in the league, while the Texans are arguably the worst team in the league and I don’t think this line is quite high enough, especially with the Texans missing their two best wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins and their feature back Dameon Pierce. My calculated line has the Chiefs favored by 17 and, while that’s not enough for them to be worth betting at this number, given the likelihood of a backdoor cover in a game that is otherwise a blowout, the Chiefs are still the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Kansas City Chiefs 33 Houston Texans 16

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -14

Confidence: Low

Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys: 2022 Week 14 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-10-1) at Dallas Cowboys (9-3)

This line is high, favoring the Cowboys over the Texans by 17 points. The Texans have been the worst team in the league this season, ranking dead last in schedule adjusted efficiency (6.5 points below average) and dead last in point differential (-99), but, as bad as they have been, they have only lost one game by more than 17 points and that was an 18-point loss, so the Texans certainly have a chance to cover this huge spread, even against a Cowboys team that is one of the best in the NFL. 

The Texans will also benefit from going back to their original starting quarterback Davis Mills, after starting terrible backup quarterback Kyle Allen for their past two games, an attempt to spark this team that backfired in a big way, leading to losses of 15 points and 13 points in the past two weeks. There’s not nearly enough here for the Texans to be worth betting and my calculated line barely gives us any line value with them, with the Cowboys favored by 16.5 points, but if I had to pick a side for pick ‘em purposes, it would be Houston.

Dallas Cowboys 30 Houston Texans 14

Pick against the spread: Houston +17

Confidence: None

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (4-7) at Houston Texans (1-9-1)

Before the season, I thought the Browns had the potential to be the best team in the league with Deshaun Watson, adding an elite quarterback to one of the more talented rosters in the league, but I’m not sure if the latter is true anymore. Watson will make his debut this week and should further boost an offense that ranks 5th in schedule adjusted efficiency, but the Browns’ defense has underperformed significantly, ranking 21st in schedule adjusted efficiency, in part due to injuries to their two best linebackers Anthony Walker and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The Browns have been better than their 4-7 record suggests, with four of their seven losses coming by three points or fewer and a -23 point differential, but they also don’t seem like they’re truly an elite quarterback away from being an elite team.

It’s also tough to be confident in how Watson will play in his first game with his new team, close to two full years since his last meaningful action. He was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in 2020 and is still in his prime in his age 27 season, but there’s uncertainty with him returning to the game after an extended absence, in a new system with new teammates. It helps that he’ll make his return against a Texans team that looks like the worst in the league, especially now with the horrendous Kyle Allen under center, and my calculated line has the Browns favored by 10, giving us some line value with the Browns at -7, but there’s too much uncertainty here for the Browns to be worth a bet.

Cleveland Browns 27 Houston Texans 17

Pick against the spread: Cleveland -7

Confidence: Low

Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-8-1) at Miami Dolphins (7-3)

A week ago on the early line, the Texans were 9.5-point underdogs on the early line, but this line has since ballooned to 14. The Dolphins were on bye last week and didn’t play, so this line movement is purely the result of the Texans’ loss to the Commanders last week and the Texans subsequent decision to bench quarterback Davis Mills for backup Kyle Allen. That seems to be an overreaction though, as one bad game shouldn’t cause that big of a line movement, while the switch from Mills to Allen is largely a lateral move, as Mills was arguably the worst starting quarterback in the league.

The Dolphins are undefeated in the seven games that Tua Tagovailoa has started and finished this season, but they aren’t exactly blowing teams out, with just one win that would have covered this 14-point spread. The Texans, meanwhile, have been competitive in most of their losses, with just one loss that would have covered this spread. The Texans are also in a better spot, as the Dolphins could easily overlook the team with the worst record in the league, with a much tougher game against the 49ers on deck. Teams cover at just a 41.6% rate all-time as favorites of a touchdown or more when they are facing an opponent with a winning percentage that is 50% less than their next opponent’s winning percentage, which is the case here. This isn’t a big bet, but the Texans are bettable this week.

Miami Dolphins 27 Houston Texans 17

Pick against the spread: Houston +14

Confidence: Medium

Washington Commanders at Houston Texans: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Washington Commanders (5-5) at Houston Texans (1-7-1)

This line shifted from favoring the Commanders by 2.5 points on the early line last week to 3 points this week, a significant shift considering 1 in 6 games are decided by a field goal exactly. That’s because the Commanders pulled the surprising upset in Philadelphia last week, winning as 11-point underdogs to give the Eagles their first loss of the season, but teams tend not to follow up big upsets well, covering the spread at a 42.0% rate after winning a game as double digit underdogs. The Commanders also won that game because they converted 13 of 22 on third and fourth down and won the turnover battle by two, both of which are not predictive. 

Meanwhile, the Commanders lost the first down rate battle by 8.09% and the yards per play battle by 1.54, which are much more predictive, so I still consider them a mediocre team. The Texans are arguably the worst team in the league, but they’re not as bad as the worst team in the league is in most years and the Commanders are the type of team they can beat in a home game, especially if the Commanders don’t take them seriously after a huge upset win last week. Getting a full field goal, the Texans are worth a bet this week and there’s a decent chance they can pull the straight up upset, so the money line (+140) is a good bet as well.

Houston Texans 17 Washington Commanders 16 Upset Pick +140

Pick against the spread: Houston +3

Confidence: Medium

Houston Texans at New York Giants: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-6-1) at New York Giants (6-2)

The Giants are 6-2, but they haven’t played nearly as well as that suggests, coming from behind to barely win most of their victories. In terms of time leading, the Giants rank 4th worst in the NFL and in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency they rank 23rd, about three points below average, in line with my roster rankings, which have them four points below average. Unfortunately, the public and the oddsmakers seem to realize the Giants are not nearly as good as their record, with the Giants favored by just 4.5 points at home against the Texans.

The Texans are arguably the worst team in the league, ranking dead last in schedule adjusted efficiency, about eight points below average. My roster rankings have them slightly better than that, about six points below average, but they are still probably the worst team in the league and my calculated line actually suggests we’re getting some line value with the Giants, calculating them as 5-point favorites. This is one of my lowest confidence picks, but I’m taking the Giants for pick ‘em purposes.

New York Giants 24 Houston Texans 19

Pick against the spread: NY Giants -4.5

Confidence: None

Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (7-0) at Houston Texans (1-5-1)

A week ago on the early line, the Eagles were favored by 9 points in this matchup with the Texans in Houston, but this line has since shifted all the way up to 14. Normally I like to fade significant week-to-week line movements like that because they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play, but in this case, I think the original line was always too low and the line movement was needed for this line to be around the correct number.

The Eagles may not be the best team in the league, despite being the league’s last undefeated team at 7-0, as they have benefited significantly from a +14 turnover margin (+8 more than any other team), which is not predictive week-to-week, while ranking just 5th in schedule adjusted efficiency, which is much more predictive. However, they are still one of the best teams in the league any way you look at it, while the Texans are arguably the worst team in the league, ranking dead last in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 10 points below average and 4 points worse than any other team in the league.

The Texans were similarly bad last season too, actually finishing 13 points below average and 5 points worse than any other team in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency. They’re a more talented team this season than they were last season, but not significantly so and they are missing several key players with injury right now, including edge defender Jonathan Greenard, wide receiver Nico Collins, and interior defender Maliek Collins. Without those three, my roster rankings have them about seven points below average. 

Overall, I have the Texans eight points below average, giving us a calculated line of Philadelphia -14.5, with the Eagles about 8.5 points above average. Obviously we’ve lost all line value with the Eagles in the past week because of the significant line movement, but they should still be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, in what should be a blowout. I can’t take the Eagles with any confidence at such a high number, but, either way, I don’t expect this game to be close.

Philadelphia Eagles 31 Houston Texans 16

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -14

Confidence: None

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans: 2022 Week 8 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (4-2) at Houston Texans (1-4-1)

The Titans have two key players who are highly questionable after not practicing on Friday, one on each side of the ball, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill and stud interior defender Jeffrey Simmons. Both players could still play, but I want to lock in a bet on the Texans either way, as they are a good value as field goal home underdogs, especially if one or both of Tannehill and Simmons does not play. The Titans are 4-2, but they’re not blowing teams out, with their only victory by more than a touchdown coming in a game against the Colts in which they had a pick six and, even with that game taken into account, the Titans have a -13 point differential. 

Schedule adjusted efficiency paints an even worse picture, with the Titans ranking 28th, 4.5 points below average, as a result of an offense that ranks 24th in first down rate and a defense that ranks 29th in yards per play allowed. The Texans are one of the worst teams in the league, but the Titans shouldn’t be favored by a field goal on the road against them, especially without Tannehill and Simmons. With Tannehill and Simmons factored in as highly questionable, I have these two teams about 1.5 points apart in my roster rankings, giving us a calculated line that favors the Texans by a point. We would lose some value if Tannehill and Simmons both played, but this line will likely shift in Houston’s favor if one or both are ruled out, so I am locking this bet in now. The money line is a good value as well.

Houston Texans 17 Tennessee Titans 16 Upset Pick +130

Pick against the spread: Houston +3

Confidence: Medium

Houston Texans at Las Vegas Raiders: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-3-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (1-4)

The Raiders are favored by a touchdown this week, despite being just 1-4, but they’ve been competitive in all of their losses, with an average margin of defeat of just 3.5 points, and this home game against the Texans is the easiest game they’ve played all season thus far, with the Texans ranking 31st in schedule adjusted efficiency. That’s about 8 points behind the Raiders, who actually rank 15th, despite their record.

However, the Raiders are missing a pair of key players, talented tight end Darren Waller and top cornerback Nate Hobbs, so these two teams are closer in my roster rankings than they are in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency. My calculated line is closer to 6.5 than 7, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the Texans. It’s an insignificant amount, so there isn’t nearly enough here for the Texans to be worth betting, but I would take them for pick ‘em purposes if I had to.

Las Vegas Raiders 23 Houston Texans 17

Pick against the spread: Houston +7

Confidence: None