Houston Texans -4 +102
Houston Texans Team Total Over 20 -110
Over the last year I have put my emphasis on watching QBs play. Brock Assweiler is one of the worst starting QBs in the league but after Saturday he is probably going to have a playoff win. That’s one playoff win more than the Broncos have this year and probably one playoff win more than Matthew Stafford. The key point is that Assweiler is playing in the better team this Saturday. I think that both of these teams are overachieving this season, but the Texans are the more well-rounded team. In fact, this team is a real QB away from going 13-3. They have a significant home field advantage (6-1 SUATS this year), a really good defense (#5 in total DVOA) and a very good matchup. Assweiler doesn’t have to do much in this game, he just has to manage it. That’s the only suit this guy fits – a game manager – when all other 21 players are doing their jobs.
The loss of Derek Carr hurts the Raiders tremendously. I don’t think that he is a good QB, but he is a solid average starter and the team has built around him so that his limits are masked to a certain point. Connor Cook is a rookie in his first ever start. In the playoffs. At Houston. Against a really good defense. Yikes. The Texans are really good against the pass but they struggled against the run througout this season. With Cook under center, they can commit more to the run. While Carr was a big loss, the biggest loss to this team and a key factor on Saturday, wasn’t mentioned very often: LT Donald Penn. This is such a terrible blow. Menelik Watson will play LT and rookie Vadal Alexander is going to play RT. Jadaveon Clowney is going to have a field day against Alexander. Connor Cook will basically play with one eye on either edge, just where Clowney is lining up. That matchup alone will force Cook to make crucial mistakes. I don’t see this Raiders offense marching down field without Donald Penn and with Connor Cook under center. I just don’t see it. The Texans defense should win this game alone.
On the flip side, the Raiders have a really, really bad defense. They rank dead-last in yards per play. Dead-last! You know what? As bad as the Texans offense is, they are 5-1 SUATS against bottom-10 defenses (DVOA) and scored 20+ in each of those games. Add the high possibility of a defensive touchdown and you have a very good recipe for the two bets I have just posted above. I think that the Texans are going to control this game from start to finish and hold the Raiders to 14 points or less. They should win something like 24-13, 27-14, 23-10.
6pt-teaser, ties win: Giants +10.5 / Seahawks -3 -115
The Packers have been playing great over the last six games, mostly because Aaron Rodgers has been playing so phenomenal and made people think that Jordy Nelson is back and Davante Adams is turning into the league’s best receivers. But they have been doing this against questionable defenses or teams whose season was already over. This receiving corps – as much as people will point towards all the absolute numbers – isn’t any good. It’s average at best. These receivers can’t get open, that’s why McCarthy changed the system quite a bit so that Jordy Nelson doesn’t need to beat deep routes and some other receivers are schemed open into space. If that isn’t enough, Rodgers finds some magic.
Against the Giants, this recipe won’t work so well as it has been over the past one and a half months. The Giants have an elite defense. They are one of the best coverage defenses in the league, they can stop the run with the likes of Damon Harrison and they can get to the passer. They held three teams playing for the playoffs to a combined 23 points recently. While the defense has been playing so well, the offense hasn’t. The OL is trash, the play-calling is trash and rookie RB Paul Perkins who is an absolute beast, doesn’t get enough carries. But the Giants’ athletic receiving corps is playing against a weak secondary that will be overmatched by Odell and Shepard. If they get Perkins into the game and try more of passing on first or second down to get those receivers into the game, they have a shot to put up enough points to even win this game straight up.
The only problem I see, is, that the Giants are playing their 3rd consecutive road game. The receiving corps was partying in Miami and the Packers are at home. That’s not the greatest situation a team can be in. I would like to get atleast 6 points on a straight bet. So far, I am sticking to the teaser.
The Seahawks get one of the most overrated teams at home. That sentence alone should be enough to not even think twice about a -3 in a teaser. Since Earl Thomas is injured, the Seahawks secondary has been a shell of themselves. They can’t cover. Since week 11, they rank #30 in pass DVOA and the Seahawks as a team are the worst playoff team in total pass DVOA (off pass dvoa – def pass dvoa). But they get an average QB who isn’t famous for having a good accuracy on throws deep over the middle or to any area 10+ downfield. The offensive design of the Lions is easy: RB screen, slant, WR screen, hitch, run, slant. They want to put their WRs into space. They are one of the league’s leading teams in yards after catch. The Seahawks defense does one thing so well: keeping the fewest distance possible between a receiver. They won’t allow many yards after catch and the Lions’ offensive line is so bad that their DL will contain the bad running game and get to Stafford. Stafford has to beat them deep and I don’t see that happen.
By the way, in his career, Stafford is 2-21 SU on the road vs teams with a winning record. He doesn’t play well in open stadiums. Seattle gonna be rocking and the Lions offense gonna struggle to move the ball. Seattle’s offense is just average this year but everyone can move the ball on the Lions. Slay gonna shut down one WR but I don’t see how they stop Jimmy Graham. Graham could have a really big day. If the Seahawks can score in the red zone (something the Lions offense can’t do to save their lives), this game could be over in the third quarter. But if the Lions DL can get consistent pressure on Wilson and the running game, and the offense doesn’t get into a rhythm, this game could be close in the fourth quarter. At the end, a championship winning team with a great coach should get things done against the ‘road warrior’ Matthew Stafford.