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Houston Texans vs. Green Bay Packers: Over/Under Bet for Week 13

Houston Texans(6–5) @ Green Bay Packers(5–6)

  • Where: Lambeau Field. Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • When: December 4, 2016 1:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Texans +7 (-120) vs. Packers -7 (+100)
  • Moneyline: Texans +240 vs. Packers -280
  • Over / Under: Over 45 (-110) vs. Under 45 (-110)

Two teams face off during the early slate of Week 13, one of which is currently leading its division, one of which is two games back with only 5 left to play. You would think that the one would make the playoffs and the other wouldn’t, right?

But in this matchup pitting the 6–5 Houston Texans against the 5–6 Green Bay Packers, the exact opposite could be true.

Both of these teams are in very weak divisions featuring three teams that could realistically win the division. Both of these teams have 3 non-division leading teams in their conference who have more wins and a better shot at the wild card. Both of these teams know that if they don’t make the playoffs by winning the division, they’re probably not going at all.

So if the Texans and the Packers are to keep their playoff hopes alive, then it is almost a necessity to win this game at historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay. December in the NFL provides a lot of matchups that can bring a must-win playoff atmosphere to a 1PM game, and this one is no exception.

Let’s take a look at these two teams individually, and see what value the matchup might hold for interested parties. For bettors in the United States, we recommend the Bovada Sportsbook. On top of credit cards and other deposit options, they also accept bitcoin for deposits and withdrawals.

Texans Are Fraudulent: Much Worse than Their Record Shows

The most underreported statistical story with the Houston Texans this year is their bizarre point differential. As we identified in Week 11, the Texans have somehow managed to keep a winning record all season despite being seriously down in the point differential.

The big idea here, as we’ve talked about before on Mobile Sports Betting, is that the number of points a team scores vs. the number of points they allow is a better overall indicator of a team’s success than is their straight-up record.

What’s most helpful about point differential is that it accounts for the key difference in the NFL between a game being close and a game being a blowout. If you beat the Browns by 28 points, that’s a good sign. If you beat the Browns by 1 point in overtime, that’s a very bad sign. But in both cases, “a win’s a win,” and the team’s record won’t reflect the actual outcome of the game. The same logic applies when losing to a good team, say, the Patriots. You can lose by a lot or lose by a little.

For example, the Cincinnati Bengals are 3–7–1, and the Carolina Panthers are 4–7. Both teams have lost 7 games so far this season, and so have more or less equivalent records. However, the Bengals have a point differential of –32, while the Panthers sit at only –5.

What this indicates, purely from a statistical standpoint, is that the Panthers have probably lost a lot of close games. And indeed, when you look at their record you see that 5 of their 7 losses were by 3 points or less. Conversely, the Bengals’ first four losses of the season were by 8, 12, 14, and 17 points.

So with this understanding of point differential, let’s take a look at the perplexing Texans.

The fact of the matter is that the Texans have won 6 games, while being down 42 points in the point differential. (You’ll notice that this point differential is worse than both the 4–7 Panthers and the 3–7–1 Bengals.) Frankly, this is astonishing.

Digging a little bit deeper, we find that the Texans have played 5 games against teams that are .500 or worse, including three divisional games against the Colts, Titans, and Jaguars. They are 4–1 in these games, with a +14 point differential, and the teams they’ve played have an average defensive ranking of 25th.

On the other hand, they have played 6 games against teams with winning records that average 12th in defensive ranking. In these games they are 1–5, with a point differential of –46.

In summary, the Texans have been okay against bad teams, and very, very bad against good teams.

And it’s clear that the reason for this is almost exclusively the poor play of new quarterback Brock Osweiler. Houston’s defense is fine: they are ranked 5th in yards allowed, even without J. J. Watt. And they can run the ball on offense, too: Lamar Miller has the 5th-most rushing yards in the league.

But despite having a 5th-ranked rushing attack, the Texans rank 31st in passing offense. Brock Osweiler has the most interceptions in the league, he is ranked 32nd in yards per attempt, 29th in completion percentage, he has an average QBR of 54.4 over 11 games (25th in the league), and he has looked rattled and rookie-like in several games this season despite having top-10 protection from his offensive line.

It’s utterly inexplicable that the Texans have been unable to utilize #1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins this year. Hopkins has been targeted by Osweiler 105 times, and yet among the 30 receivers in the league with more than 80 targets, only Allen Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars has fewer receiving yards.

For reference, last year DeAndre Hopkins finished 3rd in the league in yardage, behind only Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, despite catching passes from four different starting quarterbacks — Bryan Hoyer, Ryan Mallett (who was cut after Week 7), T. J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden.

So far this season Hopkins is ranked 41st in receiving yardage through 11 games played. Even Terrell Pryor of the Browns has 245 more yards than Hopkins, on only 7 more catches.

It’s entirely possible that it will take Osweiler a few years to become a competent starter in the National Football League. It’s also possible, unfortunately, that Osweiler profited greatly from his situation in Denver coming in for the injured Peyton Manning, and that without the future-Hall-of-Famer’s leadership, preparation, and sideline coaching, Osweiler doesn’t cut it anymore as a starting NFL QB.

But if the Texans are going to hang onto their tenuous lead in the division, Osweiler will need to bounce back strong from his 3-INT performance against the Raiders in Mexico and help his struggling team develop an identity in the absence of star defensive end J. J. Watt. If they can do that, the division is theirs for the taking. If they can’t, then the 3 games remaining against division opponents will sink them.

Which Version of the Packers Will Show Up on Sunday?

With the 2016/17 Green Bay Packers, you really need to throw out the statistics. They don’t tell you much.

Because on the one hand, in the four games prior to their solid win in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football, the Packers were historically bad. In fact, you had to go back before Vince Lombardi’s tenure in Green Bay to find the last time when the Packers had given up over 30 points in four consecutive games.

The Lombardi trophy didn’t even exist the last time the Pack was so down.

On the other hand, however, despite innumerable questions about Aaron Rodgers ability, his leadership, and even his personal life, he remains unobtrusively seated among the top 6 QBs in the league this season in attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns, with his 27 TDs to 7 INTs right up there with Drew Brees (30–8) and Matt Ryan (26–6).

And while the Pack’s running game has certainly struggled due to a rash of injuries, receivers Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams have 9 and 8 touchdowns, respectively, close behind league leaders Antonio Brown and Mike Evans, who each have 10.

So when you look at a team that has had such a Jekyll-and-Hyde season, you really have to throw out the statistics and take a closer look at what’s really going on.

And what’s really going on is injuries: The Packers have some lurking personnel issues which will make for an interesting offseason. At the worst moment in the Packers four-game skid, Green Bay was down their top 3 running backs, their tight end, their top 3 cornerbacks, and both middle linebackers. It almost felt like the preseason, with one team keeping its #1s on the field while the other team had switched to its second-string.

But now, with James Starks back in at running back and Seahawks’ leading 2016/17 running back Christine Michael snatched up off waivers, the Packers have a backfield again. With their top 3 receivers healthy and tight end Jared Cook back from injury, they’re back to the classic Packer passing attack.

The defense is still very shaky from a personnel standpoint, but with starting cornerback Damarious Randall now fully off of the injury report and starting middle linebacker Jake Ryan likely to return against the Texans, the worst may be over for the Packers’ much-maligned defense.

What this leaves us with is a team that is steadily becoming healthy again and very tired of hearing about their month-long stretch of utterly terrible football. We’re left with a team that has made the playoffs each of its last 7 seasons with the same GM, the same coach, and the same starting QB during that entire run. We’re left with a team full of veteran players like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthews, and Julius Peppers that know exactly what it takes to make a run down the stretch.

With the win in Philly, the Pack are now only down two games to the Lions, whom they have already beaten once and play again in Week 17. With an almost guaranteed win against the 2–9 Bears in Chicago Week 15, the Packers’ only chance to control their destiny is to take care of business in this upcoming two-game stretch of home football, against the Texans and the Seahawks.

Why I’m Confident in the Under for Texans-Packers

The statistics can’t tell you much about whether the Green Bay team that showed up against the Eagles will reappear on Sunday, or whether the Packers’ historically porous secondary can be counted upon to stop any team that has a legitimate passing attack.

Luckily for them, though, the Texans have the farthest thing from a legitimate passing attack, giving them the perfect opportunity to build off of the momentum they gained in Philadelphia.

The Packers’ defensive line has been able to stop the run all season; it’s their secondary that’s so unreliable. A team like the Texans with a good running attack and zero passing offense matches up very favorably against the Packers, and gives them the opportunity to play their game.

For this reason, I can’t explain why the over in this matchup has been receiving so much action.

If the Texans are able to gain first downs running the ball but not able to move the ball down the field, they’ll burn clock without scoring points. And if the Packers are able to generate 10-minute scoring drives with their now-potent offense like they did against the Eagles, there’s good reason to think that this game will end up being a repeat of the Packers-Eagles game, and with a comparable total score.

In December, the good teams surge and the fraudulent teams get exposed. On the frozen tundra of Green Bay with an estimated kickoff temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, I believe the Packers will be able to control the game and control the clock, and I think the Texans will be unable to do anything about it.

I predict the Green Bay Packers will beat the Houston Texans at home by a score of 24–10, and the game will go under the total of 45 at Bovada.

David HeinenThis article was written by David Heinen

David Heinen is a freelance psychology writer by day, inveterate NFL junkie by night. Born and raised on the Green Bay Packers, David is a die-hard Cheesehead, not to mention a cheese enthusiast in his spare time.

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