The AFC South is virtually down to a two horse race. The Titans (5-6) are three games behind the Texans (8-3) with just five games remaining. They would need the Texans to crumble and they would likely need to win out to stand any chance. The Colts (6-5) still have a chance but they need to win out while hoping the Texans drop at least one more game. Even then it would still require tie breaker permutations to decide who won the division at that point. Therefore, the Texans and Colts remaining games against the Jaguars could be crucial in deciding who wins this division.
Let’s take a look at this weeks games.
Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns
This is an absolutely fascinating game which has really emerged over the past few weeks. After starting 0-3 the Texans are now on an eight game winning streak and currently have an 8-3 record. However, it is the rise of the Browns in their last two games which has really made this game mouth-watering. The Browns have won their last two games and have looked a completely different team in those game.
Houston Offense vs. Cleveland Defense
The Texans lent on their run game last Monday and they had a lot of success, rushing for 281 yards. They now face a Cleveland Browns team who rank among the bottom 10 against the run in 2018. Therefore, they should be able to make decent yardage on the ground again this week. The Texans passing offense has failed to get over 200 yards in five of their last six games and have had a poor offensive line when it comes to pass protection all season. This matchup with a Browns pass rush which has a ton of talented pieces could make for a long day for Deshaun Watson. The Browns defense ranks first in the NFL in fumbles forced with 13 so Watson will need to make sure he holds onto the ball if Garrett and company start getting to him.
Cleveland Offense vs. Houston Defense
Cleveland need to have more success on the ground than the Titans need last week. Nick Chubb has looked extremely good since taking over the starting running back job, and in the last two games we have also seen him contribute in the passing game. Against the Titans the Texans allowed a ton of short passes so if Cleveland is struggling running the ball they should be able to use the short passing game as a defacto run game. I expect the Browns to move the ball relatively easily through the air and they have the playmakers to make plays on this Texans defense. They also have a solid offensive line which should give Mayfield time to throw.
The Texans defense has looked really good this season and I think they will make the Browns life difficult. However, the Browns offensive staff seem to have worked out ways of getting this offense going. It will be tough for the Texans to be able to shut down both elements of this Browns offense, especially if Mayfield gets clicking.
This line is Houston to win by 5.5 or 6 depending on where you get it. I think the Browns have a realistic chance to pull off an upset win here and therefore I am happy to get the free points and back the Browns. When the over/under opened at 45 I was pumped for the over but it has been bet up to 47.5 and that is a trickier number for me. That would require one of these two teams to get into the high 20s and I cannot count on that with these two defenses.
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars
On the face of it this game should be a breeze for the Colts. The Jaguars are in chaos and have just benched Blake Bortles to have Cody Kessler start. However, sometimes these things can give teams a massive boost right across the roster and that could be an issue for the Colts. The offensive plan for the Jaguars is likely to remain a heavy dose of the run and only throwing it when they need to. The Colts have been decent against the run this season, ranking seventh in touchdowns and yards per attempt surrendered.
The key to this game for the Colts could also be on the ground. The Jaguars D ranks third in preventing both passing yards and touchdowns. However, they rank in the bottom half in both rushing yards and touchdowns. Luck managed to throw for 285 yards in the last game as the Colts scored 29 points, including missing a field goal.
The Colts are four point favorites and ultimately you are giving me Andrew Luck and that offense against Cody Kessler and it is hard to pass it up. However, this feels like a game where the Jaguars rally for their coaching staff and their new quarterback. I still expect the Colts to win but I think it will be tight. The over/under at 47 something I will bet on. The last matchup between these two was dead on the 47 mark and I think this game will be lower scoring with the Jaguars committing to the ground game.
Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets
This is a really ugly game. The Titans offense is not pretty and even when they look good it seems forced. The Jets have looked really bad in the last few weeks, although they did show signs of life against the Patriots last week. If the Titans show up with even a semi-decent offense they will win this game with relative ease. However, I am not sure how to trust that to happen. The Jets could see Sam Darnold in this game as he had not been ruled out as of Saturday Night. That would be a boost but against a solid Titans defense that might not be a great thing for Darnold. The Jets will also be hoping to have the success that the Texans had running the ball last week. They need to try and wear down the Titans if they want to steal this game.
There is no way I can back the Titans as eight point favorites but equally I cannot trust the Jets either. Therefore, I will stay away from this line. The over/under is equally as frustrating at 40.5. There is every chance this is a 17-13 type of game but I can also see this ending 23-20. I think it is more likely it ends up as an under but I am not willing to bet on such a low total.
Houston Texans -5.5 vs. Cleveland Browns – Browns
Indianapolis Colts -4 @ Jacksonville Jaguars – Total points under 47
Tennessee Titans -8 @ New York Jets – No bet
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