The Houston Texans are dominating early season power rankings, but this Monday night the nation will get an up-close and personal view of all the moving parts. Meanwhile, the sky is falling in New York and the circus isn't leaving town anytime soon. Let's take a closer look at why the Texans will continue to roll against the Jets.
Back in the summer, Cantor Gaming had this game at a pick 'em. Last week, the look-ahead line was Texans (-4). After one more week of action, the line re-opened at -7. That is a big number for a road favorite, especially in a prime-time spot.
The fact that the early money came in convincingly on Houston (-7.5) should tell you all you need to know. This Texans team is no joke and people are cashing in (odds from SBRforum).
Texans Too Much for Vegas: Part II?
Last week, I posed the following question: Is it possible to set a proper line for this Houston team? I might have sprained my shoulder last week by patting myself on the back, but this week I might just dislocate it.
I rarely lay points on a double-digit favorite, but with this team I didn't even give it a second thought in Week 4. They covered with ease. It doesn't seem to matter who the opponent is or where the game is played, this team just dominates.
Unlike the 49ers, the Texans don't outperform their stats because they do the little things right or excel on special teams. They just flat out whip your butt on both sides of the ball.
I've picked the Texans every week thus far and I'm not about to stop until I see a point spread that is absolutely absurd. Week 5 is not one of those weeks.
No Revis, No Problem?
The Jets' one saving grace on the defensive side of the ball has been Darrelle Revis, but he's on the sidelines for the rest of the season. Revis's absence completely changes the dynamic of the defense.
The stats don't lie.
Without Revis on the field, the TD-INT ratio, yards per pass and completion percentage all go up in favor of opposing offenses (ESPN). You can expect Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels to take advantage using their vaunted play-action passing game.
The Texans have so many mismatches across the board. The 49ers put up video game numbers against this Jets defense in the run game and now they get an even better rushing team in the Texans. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are once drooling for this matchup.
I'm not saying they are going to put up the same eye-popping numbers, but they'll be able to dictate the game and wear down the Jets in the second half.
In fact, the Jets are well below average in all the important statistical categories; drive success rate, third down and red-zone defense, rush and pass defense and turnover differential.
Texans = Lucky?
Often times, when a team puts up big plays—especially in the turnover category—people will say a regression to the mean is coming. I agree with this sentiment in general, but not for the Texans.
When I look back at their game-changing plays, I don't see a lot of luck involved. The team has big-time playmakers on both sides of the ball and a lot of their big plays are coming due to talent, not fortunate bounces.
The scary thing for opponents is those big plays can come from anywhere.
Johnson and Foster can change the game on a single snap. The same goes for guys like J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith up front. Brooks Reed, Brian Cushing and Connor Barwin command respect on the second level. Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning shut things down on the back end. Even Trindon Holliday is due for a big play on special teams.
The Texans haven't been on the national stage very often since the start of last season, but some of these guys will start to become household names after they beat the Jets on Monday Night Football.
Can Sanchez Lead a Comeback?
I don't want to spend much time on this situation. I've never liked Mark Sanchez as a starting quarterback and Tim Tebow is even worse. Now that Santonio Holmes appears to be on the injured list, things can't get any worse.
Or can they?
If the Texans get the lead in this one like I expect them to, I have no idea how Sanchez is going to lead them back. It didn't come close to happening vs. the 49ers and I see much of the same playing out against Houston.
Perhaps it's not as bad as last Sunday for the Jets, but once Sanchez starts forcing the issue, the turnovers are going to come. He better hope his O-line has the game of their lives, too. Jake Locker found out about that the hard way.
What number would scare me off the Texans in this game? -10? -12? -14? I'm not sure, but what I do know is -7.5 isn't a spread that causes me any hesitation. Normally, a -7 road favorite in prime time is recipe for trouble, and when you add the hook it's downright dangerous.
Yet, I'm rolling with the Texans until further notice. Are they due for a letdown? Absolutely. Will there be a game where the breaks go against them? No doubt. Sooner or later the Texans are not going to cover, but I don't think this is the week it happens.
Even with their 4-0 start, the Texans are striving to be better and they'll finally get the chance to show what they're about under the bright lights of prime time. All I can say is it's about time!
NFL Pick: HOU (-7.5)