The Houston Texans have brought themselves to the doorstep of their fourth division title in five seasons, but it will take winning in a tough road environment against a team with nothing to lose to seal the deal in Week 16.
The Texans (9-5) ensured they could control their destiny in the AFC South when they knocked off the Tennessee Titans (8-6) with a 24-21 win last week, setting up a potential clincher against the Buccaneers (7-7). But just because Tampa Bay has been eliminated in a competitive NFC playoff picture doesn’t mean Houston can take its foot off the gas against a team that hasn’t lost since Nov. 17.
Here’s a closer look at the Week 16 matchup along with background, stats and advice on the two teams heading into the penultimate week of the regular season.
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Texans vs. Buccaneers Game Details
Date: Saturday, December 21
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)
Spread: Texans -3
*All odds are courtesy of OddsShark.
The line has moved up a few points for the Texans after they opened as 1-point favorites to start the week, according to VegasInsider.com. It also helps that a large majority of bettors — 82 percent of public bets — are taking Houston to deliver with the stakes high, according to ActionNetwork.com.
In a matchup of teams that lead with offense, the total is relatively high, but bettors aren’t treating it like a problem with 69 percent of public bets taking the over.
- Total has gone under in 5 of Houston’s last 7 games
- Houston is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 road games
- Total has gone OVER in 11 of Tampa Bay’s last 12 games
- Tampa Bay is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
- Houston has won 3 of 4 all-time matchups with Tampa Bay
- Average combined score in 4 series matchups is 34 points
*All trends are courtesy of OddsShark.
Analysis & Picks
A Pro Bowler for the second straight season, third-year quarterback Deshaun Watson is looking to deliver the Texans another playoff berth with the most straightforward paths to doing so: win.
The Texans have a few stars dotting their roster, including one of the NFL’s most talented wideouts in DeAndre Hopkins, but Watson has been the battery powering Houston’s offense this season. He is the league’s seventh-leading passer with 3,668 yards and 26 passing touchdowns and another seven scores on his feet, but he has been a little errant lately with his accuracy — four interceptions to just three touchdowns in his last two games.
Given Watson’s aptitude for scrambling out of the pocket, the Buccaneers can exploit the Texans’ young quarterback best if they force him to take shots downfield and capitalize with a few picks. The run protection will also be essential with Carlos Hyde averaging an 73.6 rushing yards per game and just recently eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark on the season.
The Bucs offense will be shorthanded at wide receiver with Chris Goodwin already ruled out for Saturday, and it doesn’t brighten the outlook any with quarterback Jameis Winston also being listed as questionable — though, he is still expected to play. The Texans face their own injury troubles with linebackers Jacob Martin and Benardrick McKinny sidelined for certain and both wideout Will Fuller and Hyde questionable.
Pick: Texans -3
Prediction: Texans 24, Buccaneers 13