MNF Point/Counterpoint: With Titans-Texans Spread Just Under TD ...

SBR Picks Staff

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 11:08 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 11:08 PM UTC

Last Monday, Swinging Johnson backed the Chiefs and the "under," while Doug Upstone laid the lumber on the Rams and "over." Swinger won with the Chiefs +3½, while Doug correctly hit "over" on the historic total. Let’s see what they have to say for Titans-Texans.

Swinger MNF Record: 6-6

Doug MNF Record: 6-6

Tennessee (5-5 SU, 6-4 ATS) at Houston (7-3 SU, 4-5-1 ATS)Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)S.J. Free NFL Pick: Texans ATSDoug's Free NFL Pick: Titans ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Will he or won’t he? That’s the question surrounding the status of Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota whose availability is in doubt after suffering a stinger late in the first half in last week’s 38-10 loss to the Colts. The NFL odds are offering the Texans as six-point home favorites in the early going but that number could move quite a bit as Mariota’s condition becomes clearer.

These teams last met in Week 2 in Tennessee as the Titans eked out a 20-17 win over their divisional rivals without the services of Marcus Mariota. Backup Blaine Gabbert had a modest output that day with just 117 yards passing and one touchdown but it was enough to get the win. However, since that time the fortunes of these teams have changed. Houston has reeled off seven consecutive wins after dropping its first three while the Titans scored an impressive upset of the New England Patriots just a few weeks ago but sits at .500 on the season after getting hammered by the Colts last week.

Houston’s defense has come alive and has held their opponents to 16.1 points per game over their last six contests. Conversely, the Texans’ offense has scored greater than 23 points just once during that period. On the other side of the field, Tennessee’s offense was comatose in their three consecutive losses before the team put together two stellar victories over Dallas (on the road) and then New England at home. But that modest streak was snapped last week and here we are.

Let’s read what our two cappers have to say about this Week 12 MNF tilt and who they will be backing in their NFL picks.

Swinging Johnson: Well Doug, last Monday night was a kiss your sister kind of result with the Chiefs barely covering as 3 ½ point road dogs which worked for me but you never even had to sweat the total as you were confident that KC and LA would obliterate the whopping 63 point total posted by the oddsmakers. We stand even at 6-6 ATS on the season and now it’s Thanksgiving week, the weather is getting mighty chilly up here in the North and I’ll be honest, I miss the warm weather. You know what I’m talking about – the short skirts, the tight tops, belly shirts … but, hey, I look good in them!

Well alright then, now that I’ve dispatched with the pleasantries, let’s get to this MNF showdown. First and foremost, the Titans will struggle no matter who they have pulling the trigger. Gabbert is a cautious mess while Mariota will not be 100 percent and the only way he gives himself time to scan the field against a ferocious Texans’ defensive line is if he can roll to the edge and avoid the onslaught. I don’t think he’ll be able to do that and still have enough time to find his man and accurately deliver the pass. It’s too much to ask of an ailing quarterback.

Secondly, the Titans won’t be able to do much in terms of running the ball either. Dion Lewis is a talented scat back who can break away every now and again but he’s a tremendous pass catcher out of the backfield. He might be Mariota’s most frequently targeted receiver because he’ll get open quicker and Mariota will have very little time in the pocket. That just means that Houston can key on the pass and won’t worry about the run, especially once Tennessee falls behind and every Titans’ play is a pass. Thoughts, your Majesty?

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One-handed catches and spin moves don't come naturally for @DeAndreHopkins.

Coach @Kingkeraun is here to help. 😂 pic.twitter.com/ADFo7B6p7j

— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) November 20, 2018
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Doug Upstone: Swinger, you make some salient points, and on the surface, they seem very true. However, this is how I see it. I think Mariota is less injured than is being reported. Just the fact that the sportbooks posted a number Wednesday morning leads me to believe the "stinger" deal was not as big a deal. Of course, if he hits the same elbow again, different deal.

I, like you, like the Houston defense but I see a few areas to attack, namely with Lewis as you mentioned out in the flat or in space and Mariota rolling to one side and picking up 8 to 10 yards out in the flat to make second and short and move the chains. This also is a game I see Derrick Henry having a larger role. His straight-line speed could lead to a few chunk plays.

On defense, I did not recognize that Tennessee defense, thus, I'll go with and outlier performance. While the Titans offense is hardly dynamic, the Texans are averaging a little over 23 PPG, so it's not like they are crushing it. I cannot think of a team in recent years on a seven-game winning streak that nobody, expect you it seems, is talking about. I'm not saying Houston shouldn't be a six-point favorite, I'm just not sure they will get the job done.

To me it's an odd game, Mr. Johnson, please firm up your case!

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Defensive coordinator Dean Pees + QB Marcus Mariota back on the practice field, preparing for Monday Night. #TitanUp

Titans Today: Wednesday Week 12 📺 pic.twitter.com/4ID3HSJ7QN

— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 21, 2018
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Swinging Johnson: Indeed, I shall, good sir. Because you mentioned Derrick Henry, I've got to say I'm a huge fan of the man from Al-a-bam. If it wasn't for Dion Lewis, he'd get more carries and could really prove how good he is. He reminds me of the old N.Y. Giant Brandon Jacobs. At 6'3" he's an inch shorter and at 245 he's about 20 lbs lighter but they are both huge men who ran the 40 in 4.5 and can just punish people running downhill. OK, enough about Henry.

The Texans’ biggest drawback is their offensive line. At least Mariota has a line that can block which is the only way Tennessee covers this game. Oh, and speaking of numbers, the line, as of this conversation shortly before Thanksgiving, has the Texans as 6-point favorites. Now that will move around once it becomes clear if Mariota is suiting up but Houston backers will be able to get them under a touchdown if they get down now. That’s all you’ll need to cash this ticket boys and girls.

But back to pass protection, if Deshaun Watson can get clean looks then this will be over early because DeAndre Hopkins will eat this Titans’ secondary alive. Rookie Keke Coutee has surprised a lot of people as a 4th round pick and it hurts that Will Fuller went down with a knee injury a month ago but Watson just needs time and I’m hoping his offensive line can do better and give it to him.

In closing, my keys to the game are as follows and I want you to sit up and take note Doug. Help me, help you.

  • Texans defense will batter whoever is under center for Tennessee. It will be either an injured Mariota or an anemic Gabbert.
  • Houston, like Tennessee, is very good against the run and that will force the Titans to pass which will be a perfect scenario for Houston especially if Gabbert starts.
  • Titans couldn’t stop T.Y. Hilton last week and will have the same lack of success against DeAndre Hopkins.

That’s a wrap for me. Whatcha got to say back man?!

Doug Upstone: I’m glad you are not my lawyer, based on that defense, they would be taking me away in cuffs right now and I’d be getting fitted for an orange jumpsuit. Let's talk numbers and I know you like to since I have seen you use using an abacus on your Facebook page. Houston comes in 13-26 ATS after a win by 6 or less points and the drill down of that is they are 0-6 ATS if the victory was by a field goal or less. Tennessee, despite their seemingly up and down nature, is 9-2 ATS after one or more losses, which shows a tendency to respond, at least against the number. Houston winning would not shock me, but I'll say this is a three-point outcome either.

Swinger, for all our disagreements, I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving and a terrific weekend. And when you do battle on Monday, I hope I kick your ...

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