Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Sunday, 1/1/12, 1:00 PM EST, TV: CBS
Opening Point Spread: Tennessee -1.5
Current Betting Line: Tennessee -2
Opening Total: 40.5
Current Total: 39
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
The Houston Texans are already in the playoffs while the Tennessee Titans still have an outside shot heading into their meeting in Sunday’s season finale. The Texans (10-5) have lost two straight following a seven-game winning streak that helped them clinch the AFC South division title for the first time in franchise history, and the Titans (8-7) need a lot of help to make it to the postseason as one of the two Wild Card teams.
Tennessee (-2, O/U 39) needs a win, a win by the New York Jets, a loss by Cincinnati and a loss or tie by Oakland or Denver to get in as the second Wild Card and sixth seed in the AFC. There is another scenario where the Titans must win, the Bengals and Jets must lose and the Raiders and Broncos both must win for them to qualify.
Houston does not need to worry about making the playoffs for the first time ever and has locked up the third seed, which means the team will host a game next weekend. However, the Texans are a bit concerned about finishing the regular season with three straight losses and would like to start the New Year on a positive note to give themselves some momentum heading into the postseason.
Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates has not played well for Houston during the team’s recent skid, throwing for a combined 344 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Yates threw for 300 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in a 20-19 victory at Cincinnati in Week 14, and he has played just well enough since taking over as the starter to prevent head coach Gary Kubiak from making a switch. Veterans Jake Delhomme and Jeff Garcia are waiting in the wings if Yates continues to struggle.
The Texans will have All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson back in the lineup after he has missed the last three games and nine of the last 11 with a strained left hamstring. Johnson will be on a play count according to Kubiak, but his presence should give Yates another offensive weapon and take some pressure off him along with Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster.
Tennessee has dropped two of three, failing to cover the spread in all of those games. The UNDER is 8-0-1 in the team’s last nine games, with the push coming last week in a 23-17 win over Jacksonville. The Titans have relied on veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck to get the job done offensively for most of the season with RB Chris Johnson enduring the worst season of his career after signing a four-year contract extension worth $53 million.
Johnson needs 14 yards to reach 1,000 yards and has been bothered by an ankle injury, although he is expected to start. Hasselbeck threw for 350 yards last week against the Jaguars but had just 104 against Houston in a 41-7 home loss back in Week 7.
The underdog is 11-5 against the spread in the last 16 meetings, and the Texans are 6-1-1 ATS in their past eight games overall. The OVER is 8-3 in the last 11 games between the teams and 9-2 in Houston’s past 11 as an underdog.
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