Week 12 could be the week we see the AFC South becoming a two horse race. However, it could also become a division with three teams separated by a single game. Entering this week the Texan lead the division at 7-3, on a seven game winning streak. The Colts are second at 5-5, with the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Titans (5-5). Additionally, starting this week all three of those teams have to play each other once more, with both the Titans and Colts needing to win both of their matches to really have a shot. The other team in the division could be the spoiler team. The Jaguars still have to play all three teams, and while at 3-7 their season might be over they could still ruin the season for one of these three teams.
Anyway enough looking ahead. Let us get back to Week 12 and what each team needs to do to win.
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
Monday Night Football in Week 12 may not feel like a great matchup after last weeks points-fest. However, in a way this game perhaps has even bigger ramifications for the playoffs than last week did. For the Titans a loss in Houston would effectively eliminate them from divisional contention. For the Texans, a win ensure they keep the Colts at arms reach but a loss opens the door right up for both the Titans and Colts.
Texans Offense vs. Titans Defense
The Texans need to be balanced on offense. If they cannot get a run game going then the Titans defensive line will be able to exert pressure and force mistakes from Deshaun Watson. This season the Texans have committed plenty to the run as they rank third in rushing attempts and 10th in rushing yards. However, they rank 25th in yards per attempt and 29th in rushing touchdowns. This game will not be easy for the Texans on the ground. The Titans defense rank 10th in the league in rushing yards allowed, seventh in yards per attempt and fifth in rushing touchdowns surrendered. The Titans are 3-1 this season when holding opposing teams under 100 yards rushing.
Through the air the Texans have been more efficient ranking 18th and 15th in passing yards and touchdowns respectively, despite ranking 27th in passing attempts. That efficiency is thanks to an eighth best 7.1 passing yards per attempt. However, they are facing a team who rank ninth in passing yards surrendered and fourth in touchdowns allowed. That means it will be hard for the Texans to move the ball consistently and they will need to be patient and force the Titans offense to go the distance on every drive. Handing short fields to Vrabel and the Titans is the best way to lose this game for the Texans offense.
Titans Offense vs. Texans Defense
A lot of this depends on Marcus Mariota, who enters the week questionable with a stinger. If Mariota can go on Sunday then the Titans have a realistic chance. If Blaine Gabbert is under center then the season might be virtually over. The Titans offense has struggled this year, ranking 28th and 30th in points and total yards respectively. They also average 26th and 30th on passing and rushing yards per attempt respectively.
However, they demonstrated in the three game stretch against the Chargers, Cowboys and Patriots that they can have success moving the ball. In those three games they had over 200 passing yard and over 100 rushing yards. They have only done that one other time this season, and that was in Week 1.
Turnovers will also be key for the Titans offense. In games where they turned the ball over less than twice they are 4-2. In games where they turned it over two or more times they are 1-3. On the road you cannot win consistently turning the ball over and especially if your quarterback is limited.
This line opened with the Texans 6.5 points favorites but has dropped to 5.5. If Mariota is healthy then that likely drops down to 4.5. I actually think this is a game the Titans can have success in. Their defensive line should be able to disrupt Watson and limit the run game. I would not bet on this game if Mariota is out so I would wait to see but if he is in I would take the Titans and the points in this game. Over/under wise the total is sitting right around 41 and that feels right. I think this game is in the region of 23-20 or 20-17 so for that reason I am going to stay away from the total this week.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Miami Dolphins
I do not want to spend much time on this game as my colleague Alex Riley did a great job previewing it earlier today. The only way I see the Dolphins winning is to out shoot the Colts offense. Andrew Luck is absolutely rolling, having not been sacked for five straight games and on a seven game streak of throwing three or more touchdown passes. The Colts also have a run game beginning to function and they should be able to move the door and get to somewhere in the region of 30 points
Ryan Tannehill is expected to play but how limited he will be is unknown. He is absolutely an upgrade on Brock Osweiler. However, I am not sure he can win a shootout with Luck. The injuries on the Dolphins offense are a major issue and they should struggle to get much over the mid 20s in this game
The Colts opened as 10.5 point favorites but the Tannehill news has brought down to eight. I think the Colts will win and that is right around the difference I expect there to be in this game. Therefore, I would walk away from betting that. The over/under is set at 51/51.5, and it depends on the Dolphins as to whether that gets hit. The Colts should get right around 30 points and the Dolphins should be in the 17-24 region. I think the Tannehill boost means the Dolphins score enough points to make me back the over in the game.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Buffalo Bills
If I wasn’t covering this game I would not be watching a second of it. This is two bad offenses and two good defenses. It will be tough hard hitting football and I do not expect many points. Josh Allen should be back and the Jaguars have some injury questions making this a tough game to call.
The Jaguars are three point favorites but I cannot recommend you guys put your hard earned money anywhere near either of these teams. I think the game has less than 37 points in it but that total is so low that it could go over by accident. Therefore, this is a game that I am refusing to bet a single penny on.
Houston Texans -5.5 vs. Tennessee Titans – Titans (if Mariota is playing)
Indianapolis Colts -8.5 vs. Miami Dolphins – Over 51.5 total points.
Jacksonville Jaguars -3 @ Buffalo Bills – No bet (This is a game that if you bet on you may need to admit you have a problem!)
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