Houston, You Have a Problem
Tony Salinas: Houston, You Have a Problem
As a Texan, there's nothing I would love to see more than the Houston Texans take their "nobody's giving us a chance" mentality all the way to the Super Bowl. You have to love how these guys are playing football this year. Gone are the finesse days that were all about offense and defense was just an afterthought. The 2011 Houston Texans hurt you on defense, and run over you on offense.
Unfortunately, I have to admit that they're just not all that good when third string quarterback T.J. Yates is on the field. Yes, he held his own last week in the Wildcard win over Cincinnati. But, he didn't really have to do much in that game against a fading Bengals team that had played poorly down the stretch.
Do you remember what Houston had done with Yates at the helm before that game?
*Houston (+1) beat Atlanta 17-10 (great result vs. a playoff team)
*Houston (+2.5) beat Cincinnati 20-19 (lucky win in the final seconds)
*Houston (-4.5) lost to Carolina 28-13
*Houston (-7) lost at Indianapolis 19-16
*Houston (+1) lost to Tennessee 23-22
Houston was 2-3 straight up down the stretch, and the Bengals really should have put that regular season meeting away because they were in control much of the day. That was basically a 1-4 performance, with three of the losses coming against non-playoff teams, and a fourth shaky outing coming against a team that wasn't playing at a playoff standard at the time.
The win over Atlanta impressed me. The win last week over the Bengals impressed me. But, as handicappers, I just can't forget that this very same group lost to the worst team in the league a few weeks ago!
Sunday's opponent is Baltimore. Baltimore's better than Atlanta, who was exposed as a pretender last week in New York. Baltimore's clearly better than Cincinnati thanks to a regular season sweep. Baltimore would be pricey favorites at home in a playoff meeting with the last three teams on the list.
For Houston to win THIS game, all of the following must happen:
The Texans must channel that "us against the world" mentality in 60 full minutes of football. A few breaks early in the game, and this could easily happen. But, if they fall behind in the first half, will they be able to maintain their spirit and confidence. I've always said, "Tell a bunch of guys that they have no chance, and they'll do whatever they can to prove you wrong." The dog may have that going for them here.
The Texans must keep Baltimore out of the end zone to stay within striking distance, and to cast seeds of doubt with the Ravens and their home crowd. This is a franchise that keeps running into a wall in the playoffs...and it's easy for that kind of mentality to start playing with fear in a close game. Think about how badly Baltimore self-destructed with a lead a year ago this week against Pittsburgh.
The Texans must avoid any turnovers that give away cheap points. There's no margin for error in this game. We're talking about a group that just played nailbiters with Tennessee, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati in the final month of the regular season.
The Houston defense can win this game...and the Houston running attack has a chance to impose it's will. No doubt about it. Just remember that they couldn't do that against Indianapolis!
I will definitely have a big play on the Sunday card, and it could well be in this Houston-Baltimore early kickoff. You can purchase the exact same plays I'm betting the biggest myself in the Vegas sportsbooks right here at the website with your credit card. The same is true in basketball, where I'm looking at several opportunities (Duke is in action again, I warned you about them possibly being overrated in the ACC this year before they failed to cover against Virginia this past Thursday Night). If you have any questions about my football or basketball service call my office at 1-888-536-8880.
Don't forget that we have a lot of DAY GAMES on Monday because of the MLK holiday. I do plan to be in action in the early starts. Oddsmakers have really struggled in the NBA this year, and the early pro card has a few interesting matchups like Orlando-New York and Chicago-Memphis.
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