Can the Texans spring the surprise in Atlanta when they take on the high-flying Falcons? Find out as we serve up our Football betting preview, complete with NFL picks.
Houston Texans (1-2 SU, 0-1 away)
Ryan Mallet lifts the Texans to their first win of the season in week 3 NFL betting, a 19-9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the win was anything but convincing. Indeed, Buccaneers missed an extra point and three field goal attempts in the second half that could have turned the outcome on its head.
Nevertheless, the Texans needed the morale boost after falling to an opening 27-20 loss to Kansas City Chiefs at home and succumbing to the Panthers in week 2 on the road in a 24-17 loss. Most concerning about those earlier accounts though is the offense’s inability to put up more than 20-points through three games. Not to mention the suspect ground game, which was spectacularly wanting after going well under 100 yards rushing respectively.
The latter wasn’t the case in week 3 as Alfred Blue finished with 138 yards on 31 carries and scored a 20-yard touchdown run. But the best account came from the defense that stifled the Bucs offense in a big way. Not only did they hold the Bucs to just nine-points, they managed to thwart them in 12 of 13 third down attempts.
If there is one division that is underwhelming early on it’s the AFC South, with the entire field level at 1-2 SU going into week 4. Andrew Luck and Indianapolis Colts have looked out of sorts and the Texans have issues at quarterback, while the Titans and Bucs are putting the building blocks in place. On the bright side, it busts this division wide open. All four teams could realistically fancy their chances for the title right now, meaning the premium on the outcome of this game for the Texans is huge. Question is whether they can step up to the plate against the high-flying Falcons.
Atlanta Falcons (3-0 SU, 1-0 home)
Dan Quinn’s head coaching career is off to a charming start in Atlanta behind a three-game winning streak to start the season. Naturally, the Falcons would love to maintain the unalloyed record (3-0 SU and ATS) when they welcome the Texans to Atlanta, marking their second home game of the season. But in the Texans they face one of the toughest defenses yet.
So far the Falcons have been tested by the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys (in that order) through the first three weeks of the NFL season. The Texans present a slightly different challenge for Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the rest of the offense. One of the stingiest defences that is allowing just 20 points per game and one that really stepped up in week 3 NFL betting, the timing of which could be significant as they prepare for the trek to the Georgia Dome.
Of course, Quinn is a defensive guru. He was the defensive coach in Seattle for several seasons and led the Legion of Boom to the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons. Defense is his thing, so he’ll be ready for J.J Watt and the Texans, one assumes.
What Quinn has accomplished so far is quite astonishing, completely turning around the Falcons. They are playing balanced football and have a verve and swagger not seen since their standout 2012 season, when they finished 13-3 SU and clinched the NFC South title. Are they the real deal this season?
NFL Betting Verdict: Falcons have been the surprise package of the season, the upshot of which is that they enter this game as the overwhelming home faves to both win straight up and cover. The spread opened on five points with the Falcons to the good, but it’s steadily creeping up to a score, with some sportsbooks trading at 6.5-points (Bet365 for instance) and others going up to 7-points (5Dimes). That’s quite a hefty spread all things being considered. Texans are both 1-2 SU and ATS this season, with just a 1.3-point margin of defeat after week 3’s 19-9 win over the Bucs. On the road, they are 0-1 SU and ATS with a 7-point margin of defeat thanks to a 24-17 loss to the Panthers. But that is just one game on the season, so hardly a proper sample upon which to base your NFL picks.
Overall, this is a tough game to handicap. It’s impossible not to be impressed by the Falcons, and NFL bettors are already traipsing to the betting counter heavily armed with lots of lovely cash that they are piling right on top of the Falcons to cover. As it is, 92% of early money is on the Falcons according to Vegas Insider reports. That’s just a lot of public loving that has us a touch sceptical, if not put off. What the heck, we’re fading the public and shading the Texans to cover as 7-point underdogs on the NFL Odds Board.
NFL Pick: Texans +7 (-130) at 5Dimes