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Monday Night Prediction, Week 12

The Houston Texans control the South and with the reemergence of Andrew Luck and the Colts, there is little time left for the Tennessee Titans to decide if they can take another step forward this season or head back to the drawing board.

 

TENNESSEE TITANS (5-5) AT HOUSTON TEXANS (7-3)

Week 12 Monday Night Football Odds: Texans -4 and O/U 41.5

If you like offense, you’re probably wondering when the NFL is going to start adding Monday nighters to their list of available ‘flex’ options geared towards making these primetime games more exciting. But let’s face it, they can’t all be like last week’s triple-digit thriller from LA. And while this game may have a completely different list of elements that make it ‘must see tv,’ it’s still a critical game in determining playoff positioning in the AFC South.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota began the week on the injury report with what is being called a stinger. Although there were theories that he had reaggravated a nerve injury, Mike Vrabel said it was precautionary and Mariota’s throwing elbow is fine. Mariota’s completions have declined in four consecutive starts, from 24 against the Chargers to just 10 at Indianapolis, but his accuracy (67.6) is on pace for a career high. Still, with just seven touchdowns and six interceptions, not to mention two lost fumbles, Mariota needs to elevate his game against this Texans D if he wants a legitimate chance at winning straight up.

Since moving to No. 1 on the depth chart in 2015, Mariota has missed more games against the Texans than he has started. Various knee, leg and elbow injuries kept him out of four games and in the three he started, Mariota has averaged 149 passing yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. The two games at NRG Stadium, the Titans were outscored 84-34 and the elephant in the room is that the backup plan involves Blaine Gabbert.

In the first meeting this season, Gabbert was 13-for-20 with just 117 passing yards but thanks to creative playcalling, a timely interception and clutch kicking from Ryan Succop, the Titans came away with a 20-17 win. Divisional dogs in lower totaled rematches don’t usually fare well after throwing for less than 200 yards in the first meeting. Their modern day record is just 42% ATS but the Texans home record against teams averaging fewer than 30 passes per game is only 10-15 ATS.

With or without Mariota in the lineup Tennessee is throwing the ball 28 times per game (2nd fewest), and the run game is averaging 3.9 yards per carry (3rd fewest). It’s cueing this game up as a defensive struggle and coming into the week, Houston’s stop unit is ranked third overall. At home the Texans are allowing just 19.8 points but the level of competition, especially at the time they faced these opponents, was laughable. Giants, Cowboys (Week 5), Bills and Dolphins? Those were teams at their worst. The question now becomes whether or not the Titans defense will be able to get any pressure against Houston’s subpar O-Line and we are giving the edge here to Houston.

When you look at Tennessee’s five losses this year, location had as much to do with it as caliber of opponent. The Titans lost in Miami and Buffalo, two teams whose overall offensive line metric ranks lower than that of the Texans. They also lost at home to a stout Ravens D, in London to the Chargers, and had no chance keeping pace with Indianapolis. The Titans defense relies on pressure and without it, they are being outscored 23.8 to 12.2. With a healthy Mariota the Titans will have every chance to score around 17-20 points in this game but they will be hard pressed keeping the Texans south of 24 points.

 

PRIMETIME PREDICTION

Our matchup projections are forecasting this game at 24-20 in favor of the Texans. Considering the uncertainty of Mariota’s health, the temptation to lay 3.5 points is real but at 41.5, we’re seeing slightly greater value on the total. This game fits a profile for home faves up to -7 facing teams that score fewer than 20 points per game. The over is 59-percent effective in this system with more than 300 samples and since 2015, 16 games have gone 12-4 O/U. On Monday Night Football the record is 15-8 O/U so keep your eye out for a 41 if it becomes available and look for this one to climb over.

Week 12 MNF Prediction: Take the Titans and Texans Over

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