NFL Week 9 Predictions: Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
Sunday, 11/6/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Houston -10.5
Current Betting Line:  Houston -11
Opening Total:  41
Current Total:  41
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Cleveland Browns running game desperately needs Peyton Hillis back on the field

Cleveland has scored just 16 combined points the last two weeks and is coming off a 20-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers as nine-point road underdogs.  The Browns have been hampered by the inability to run the football and star runner Peyton Hillis is still listed as day-to-day with a hamstring injury.  “We like to think we can still run the football,” commented Browns first-year head coach Pat Shurmur stated.  “Whoever is running the ball, whoever is lining up at tailback, will have that opportunity.”  Cleveland is 9-9 ATS on the road and the ‘under’ is 11-8 in those contests.

The Browns only came way with one victory in four October games, which is surprising due to their defensive performance, holding opponents to 19.9 points and 286.5 yards per game.  Second-year quarterback Colt McCoy will be standing under center for the 16th time as a starter this week, coming in with a 5-10 record, which is actually more losses than he was handed the entire time he was in Austin and playing for the Texas Longhorns.

Houston bounced back nicely after consecutive losses to the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens, entering into this Week 9 affair on a two-game winning streak.  The Texans out-gained the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars by a combined 554 yards in those victories.  The biggest difference about the team from year’s past is definitely a defense that is allowing just 18.1 points and 286.8 yards per game.  “I do have a ton of confidence right now in the way we’re playing defensively,” commented Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.  Houston is 16-21 ATS over the last two-plus seasons and the ‘under’ is 21-18 in that span.

The Texans stop unit has made the improvement due to the direction of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, ranking third in total defense, including sixth versus the run and fifth against the pass.  Houston’s success is definitely not a fluke at this point, facing five teams already that possess winning record, with four more on the way.  On the offensive side, quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Arian Foster have done a great job in racking up yardage, while the team awaits the return of wide receiver Andrew Johnson.  The former Miami Hurricanes star may miss Sunday’s game with a continual hamstring injury.

Bettors will likely back the Browns due to their 4-1 ATS mark as a underdog of 10.5 or more points, while the Texans have never covered a double-digit spread.

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