Betting Trends & Titans' QB Questions Make Texans -3.5 the NFL Pick

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, October 31, 2015 9:16 PM GMT

Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 9:16 PM GMT

With the 3-4 Colts facing a tough matchup at undefeated Carolina this week, the 1-5 Titans and 2-5 Texans look for a win in their game to stay relevant in the underperforming AFC South. Our NFL handicapper analyzes the matchup and makes his NFL pick.

This game was off on all sportsbooks until late in the week as a decision on a starting quarterback was made in Tennessee. More on that later. The decision on a starting quarterback in Houston was made easier this week, as Ryan Mallett missed the team charter after the Texans got blasted in Miami. He was forced to take a commercial flight back to Houston instead, but probably should have stayed in South Beach, as he was cut from the Texans when he landed. Now the future of the Texans rests on the play of Brian Hoyer, with only journeyman TJ Yates signed as his backup.

Hoyer actually had a decent stretch of games in the first three weeks of October, posting a QBR of 103.8 at Atlanta, 116.6 vs. Indianapolis, and 119.3 at Jacksonville. That was before the Texans were annihilated in Miami, where Hoyer put up a passing line of 23-49 for 273 yards and an interception. Those numbers were basically put up in one half, as the Texans were down 41-0 at halftime. At least they only had 3 penalties for 25 yards in that game. Silver lining you guys.

Ok, back the Titans quarterback situation. It wasn’t known until the last minute, but Tennessee Titans head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, has scratched Marcus Mariota from this game. He’s named Zach Mettenberger the starter, a quarterback with a career 0-7 record. Mettenberger has a career QBR of 80.2 over 10 games. Neither I, nor the Titans fan base are especially happy with this move. Some believe that veteran backup, Charlie Whitehurst, would be better at keeping the Titans in games while Mariota is out. And as the AFC South is still up for grabs, every game counts.

If there is a positive spin to the Tennessee Titans season so far, it has to be the play of the defense. Only giving up 10 points to the high powered Atlanta offense in Week 7, the Titans continue to play well against the pass and are second in the NFL in passing yards allowed at 195.2 per game. While that is great, the Titans are a sieve to the running game, and are 29th in rushing yards allowed at 129.2 YPG. Fortunately for the Titans, their weakness also matches a weakness for the Texans right now, as Arian Foster was lost for the season due to an Achilles injury. The Texans are 27th in the league with 92.4 YPG, and will employ a running back by committee approach with Alfred Blue and Chris Polk for the rest of the season.

In this game, we have enough personnel questions that it is very tough to come up with a lean on this game based on individual matchups. In these situations, I like to look at overall coaching schemes for direction, as those have the least chance to change year over year – especially if the coaching staffs are the same. That analysis comes up with Houston as the choice in this game, as they are 8-2 ATS versus the Titans in their last 10 games, including two blowout wins last year. I think the quarterback situation in Tennessee also takes this one over the top. I am shopping around and backing the Houston Texans in this game at -3.5 NFL odds as one of my Week 8 NFL picks.

NFL Picks: Texans -3.5 at Heritage

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