Houston Texans @ New York Jets: Jets +7 – 10/13
The Texans saw luck finally fall against them last week, and not just becaus eAndrew Luck was on the other side. Nine weeks in a row they’d picked up wins, several by the tightest of margins, but the Colts forced their way ahead in Houston early and never looked back. Despite the best efforts of Deshaun Watson to extend their undefeated streak with a late comeback, they fall to 9-4 for the season.
It doesn’t really blow the AFC South open though, with Houston still two games ahead of Indy and Tennessee and just three games left. Depending on results this weekend, the division title and playoff berth culd be sealed by 9pm on Sunday, but the loss does show to anyone who hasnt been paying attention that the Texans aren’t the relentless force their record may have suggested.
Luckily for them, their schedule now throws up another of the league’s make-weights.
The Jets have had a rough year, and though they may have their franchise QB in Sam Darnold, there needs to be an overhaul of their staff before they can hope to compete with competent play under center.
The assumption has been that coach Todd Bowles will be bowled over and out of the Meadowlands come the new year. Still, they won last week in Buffalo, snapping a six-game losing streak and suggesting there might be some fight still in this team.
The Jets coped with the Bills’ tough defence last week, and Houston still seems overestimated to me because of their recent won, so I’m encouraged by the +7 handicap on Gang Green at 10/13, but get it before the number drops to less than a touchdown.
Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos: Browns +2.5 – 20/21
We’re at the stage of the season where the break of a ball, the freakish fumble or impossible seeming interception can send a team’s prospects for the season cratering.
Though taking a beating in a spot you should win will also wreck your chances.
Take the Broncos. Prior to their face off with the 49ers last week, Denver were getting tonnes of buzz as potential playoff team after a run that saw them narrowly lose to both the Rams and Chiefs while beating the fancied Steelers and Chargers.
No one would want to play this Denver D if they’re playing at this level, right?
Except a 3-10 San Francisco with Nick Mullens under center.
The Niners streaked to a 20-0 lead at the half last week and Denver’s Case Keenum-led offence just doesn’t have the fire power without Emmanuel Sanders and the traded Demaryius Thomas to fight back from there.
The Browns, meanwhile, were busy dealing another blow to Carolina’s faltering playoff hopes. It was their third win under interim coach Gregg Williams, who now has as many wins in five games as Hue Jackson had in two-and-a-half years.
A weight looks to have lifted from Cleveland, and, unbelievable as it may sound, the Browns still have a shot at making the playoffs with Pittsburgh on the verge of meltdown and Baltimore an untrustworthy prospect in the AFC North.
As such, there’s huge momentum and motivation in their favour here, while Denver look to be headed in the opposite direction.
I’d take the Browns +2.5 on Saturday night.
*All odds correct at time of posting