Are the Houston Texans trying to win the Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes? Or does Case Keenum have the right tools to open up the NFL betting vault?
Ladies and gentlemen, the Houston Texans are 1-0 ATS in the Case Keenum Era. And they came close to being 1-0 SU as well, losing 17-16 to the Kansas City Chiefs (–7 at home) in Keenum’s first ever NFL start. Is this real life? Are the Texans actually making the right move by sticking with Keenum now that incumbent starter Matt Schaub is presumably healthy?
The guys who set the NFL odds seems to think so. Despite their appalling 2-5 record (1-6 ATS), the Texans opened as a pick ‘em at home for their Week 9 Sunday Night Football matchup with the Indianapolis Colts, who lead the AFC South at 5-2 (4-3 ATS). Interesting. And go figure, the early action has been heavy on the Colts according to our consensus reports.
In theory, the oddsmakers had two weeks to figure this line out, since both the Texans and the Colts had a bye in Week 8. But first they had to wait to see if Keenum would get another start after his yeoman effort against the Chiefs. He did some good work early on against the formidable Kansas City defense, showing poise and connecting on a number of deep passes. However, the Chiefs were all over Keenum in the fourth quarter, sacking him four times and forcing a pair of fumbles.
The big stat for Keenum: zero interceptions, which is why Schaub (eight TDs, nine INTs) will remain on the sidelines for at least another week. Keenum’s 110.6 passer rating from the Chiefs game also looks very promising. Take a look, though, at Keenum’s plus-38 Total DYAR from Week 7 (plus-41 passing, minus-3 rushing). That ranked No. 17 among the 32 quarterbacks who played that week.
Houston will take it. Schaub is easily having his worst year since joining the Texans in 2007; after six reliable seasons as one of the Top 10-15 quarterbacks in the NFL, Schaub has fallen to No. 26 in passing DYAR at minus-55, putting him behind the likes of Matt Cassel (plus-30, No. 22 overall) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (minus-22, No. 25). Is this the new normal for Schaub? The Texans aren’t waiting around to let him prove otherwise.
Given that the Texans have also lost LB Brian Cushing for at least the next three months with a broken leg and a torn knee, and are unsure about the availability of running backs Arian Foster (hamstring) and Ben Tate (ribs) for Week 9, it’s no surprise that the sharps are lining up to bet on the Colts. But I’d be doing the same even if the Texans were healthy. Football Outsiders has Indianapolis ranked third overall in efficiency through Week 8, behind only the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Houston? No. 29 overall.
I am going to take one potshot at the Colts, though. What in the sweet sassy molassey is up with RB Trent Richardson? He’s managed just 3.0 yards per carry since escaping the Cleveland Browns, down from 3.6 yards per carry in his 2012 rookie campaign. The advanced stats don’t help his cause, either: Richardson’s minus-32 DYAR rushing and minus-30 DYAR passing put him in the bottom 25 percent among NFL regulars at his position. Phooey.
Well, at least the Colts have Donald Brown (5.9 yards per carry, plus-72 Total DYAR). And they have QB Andrew Luck, who’s good for 6.5 yards per scramble and has just three picks to go along with his 10 TD passes. Luck still has to deal with 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt on Sunday night (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC), but the No. 11-ranked Houston defense is likely to fall back into the pack without Cushing – just like last year. I recommend the readers back the Colts for their NFL Picks.
NFL Pick: Take the Colts –1.5 (–115) at SBOBET