Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns
The Houston Texans look to hold onto their lead in the AFC South as they host the Cleveland Browns. The Texans are -10.5 favorites over the Browns with an over/under point total set at 40.5.
The Houston Texans have been on the fringe of making the playoffs for several years and their hopes are that this is finally their year. The Texans have won their last two games and are unbeaten in the AFC South giving them the upper hand at least over the near term. Matt Schaub has played every down at QB completing 60 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. Arian Foster is healthy once again and the Texans are feeding him the ball as he carried 33 times last week alone as his numbers for the season continue to build. Andre Johnson has been out with a hamstring injury but it’s possible he could be back this week but in the meantime Owen Daniels and Kevin Walter have been Schaub’s primary targets. Over the years it has been the Texans defense that has been their downfall but with Wade Phillips coaching the defense the unit is improving with Brian Cushing playing well and leading the team in tackles and rookie J.J. Watt is contributing more and more. If the Texans defense can hold their own this may be Houston’s year to be in the playoffs.
The Cleveland Browns are a work in progress and while they are becoming adept at making scores close they haven’t gotten over the hump to win on a consistent basis. The Browns offense has struggled and they are 28th in the NFL in average points per game at 15.3. QB Colt McCoy has completed 57 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and five interceptions while taking 16 sacks but it’s clear he is still learning the NFL game. Peyton Hillis has been sidelined and is questionable once again and Chris Ogbonnya carried the load last week but he was ineffective. Greg Little is an emerging receiver and Josh Cribbs can still make a big play but at times there doesn’t seem to be a clear game plan offensively at times. The Cleveland defense plays hard but they spend too much time on the field and last week at San Francisco they kept the Browns in it in the second half but allowed a bad face mask penalty to all but kill their chances. D’Qwell Jackson leads the Browns with 65 tackles and Phil Taylor is an emerging talent with three sacks. Cleveland can compete but they are clearly at least a year away from being any kind of contender.
Houston is 4-1 against the spread in their last five games as a favorite, 5-2-1 against the spread in their last eight games against AFC teams, and 1-6-1 against the spread following a straight up win. Cleveland is 4-1 against the spread as an underdog of 10.5 or more points, 1-7-1 against the spread following a loss, and 0-5 against the spread against a team with a winning record.
This doesn’t look to be a good matchup for Cleveland as it’s doubtful they can keep up with Houston’s scoring and while their defense should be able to make some stops, they could be in for a long day as well if Johnson is back.
Houston Texans -10.5 Cleveland Browns