It was nice to get back in the winning column last week, with our second 5-1 ATD week of NFL picks in the first three weeks of the season. Let's keep it going! Before we get into the picks for this week's sale of games, let's take a look at the futures market, on the heels of the biggest win of the Bill O'Brien Era, and see what the market is saying about the Texans' chances at making some noise during the rest of the season and into the postseason.
SUPER BOWL TITLE ODDS: The Texans sit at 25/1, holding steady from last week, with 11 teams on the board with shorter odds. That sounds about right.
AFC TITLE ODDS: The Texans are down to 10/1 to win the AFC with only New England (+175), Kansas City (+250), and Baltimore (+900) with shorter odds. Worth noting, the Texans will get a crack at all three of those teams between now and the final quarter of the regular season — Chiefs in Week 6, Ravens in Week 11, and Patriots in Week 13.
AFC SOUTH TITLE ODDS: The biggest move for the Texans in the last week came inside the division, where they moved from +175 to even money (+100) to win the division. The Colts (+200 to +175) and Jaguars (+700 to +650) both saw their odds improve slightly, while the Titans took a nosedive from +250 to +700.
Now, speaking of the Texans, onto this week's picks....
TEXANS -4 over Panthers
Panthers/TEXANS UNDER 47.5
First of all, I was very surprised the spread on this game opened at just four points, and even more surprised that it's stayed there during the week. A four-point spread means there's only one point of difference between these two teams on a neutral field, and despite Kyle Allen's stellar performance in his first start of the season last weekend, that was a Cardinal defense coached by Vance Joseph. This is a Texans defense coached by Romeo Crennel, who eats young quarterbacks for lunch. This lines up as a game the Texans typically win under O'Brien, so I'll back on a cover here and a low scoring game.
Patriots/BILLS UNDER 42.5
The battle of the week in the AFC, at least in terms of overall records, is in Buffalo where the undefeated Bills take on the undefeated (and Super Bowl favorite) Patriots. The Patriots defense has been unbelievable this season, giving up no touchdowns thus far. (The two TD's allowed by the Patriots have come on a special teams mistake and a pick six.) The Bills defense has been very solid, as well, and I think this is a game where the defenses rule the day.
Seahawks/CARDINALS OVER 48
I'll mention again, the Cardinals allowed Kyle Allen to throw four touchdown passes last week, so what will Russell Wilson do? On the offensive side of the ball, we know the Cardinals will push tempo, and worst case, gets one garbage points in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks are not an up tempo team at all, but the Cardinals stink defensively. Pace shouldn't matter for the Seahawks.
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BRONCOS -3 over Jaguars
At 0-3, the Broncos are desperate for a win, and amazingly, they have not forced a turnover or sacked a QB yet this season. I'll bank on some regression occurring in both of those areas against the precocious, but still inexperienced, Gardner Minshew .The Broncos get the first win of the Joe Flacco Era. (And yes, I just realized that I'm backing Joe Flacco, and now I want to vomit.)
Bengals +3.5 over STEELERS
Two 0-3 teams on a Monday night, I'll take the points and the better QB. (Man, I can't believe I'm backing Joe Flacco AND Andy Dalton in the same weekend... hell, in the same SEASON.)
LAST WEEK: 5-1
SEASON NFL ATS RECORD: 12-6 (66.7 percent)