2002 Season NFL Football Past Picks
December 29, 2002
Tennessee at Houston
Sunday 12/29 01:00 PM Eastern
4 units on Houston +8.5 (-110) (risk 4 to return 7.64) RESULT: LOSS
Tennessee nailed down the AFC South last week with their ninth win in the last ten games. After an incredible last two thirds of the season, it is time for the Titans to rest a little for the playoffs. Yes, they are playing for a first-round bye. But, it is unlikely they will be playing with their recent intensity against Houston. In the unlikely event that Oakland loses to KC on Saturday, Tennessee will have a shot at home-field advantage in the playoffs and they will be playing harder. But if Oakland wins, Tennessee won’t be as motivated.
Meanwhile, this game is the final one for the inaugural Houston Texans. They have no reason to rest. They have every reason to end the season on a high note. But will isn’t everything? Can they do it as a big underdog?
Houston’s offense certainly has its problems but should manage to put up points against a mediocre Tennessee defense (ranked in the middle of the league in scoring defense and in the bottom third in pass defense). The Texans boast a good defense, ranked 18th overall and 10th against the run, which should help against Eddie George.
If Tennessee is up comfortably in the second half, I expect them to rest McNair which would open the door for a late Houston cover.
How has Houston done in this type of situation? In their first meeting this year, Tennessee managed a 7-point win while Houston covered as a 9.5 point underdog. Houston plays above expectations within the division, having covered 60% of inter-division games this year.
Home underdogs of 7+ historically do very well against the spread at around 64%. This trend has done even better over the past three years, hitting 75% including 6-2 this year. Houston is 2-1 in this situation having covered in week 1 against Dallas (+8) and Buffalo in week 6 (+7.5) while sporting a sole loss against the spread to Indianapolis in week 3 as a 10.5 point dog. In addition, Houston also covered the two other home games in which they got more than 3 points at home (JAC +6 and NYG +5.5).
Houston should be able to keep this game closer than a touchdown.