Texans vs. Titans Betting Tip: Bet Against NFL Teams in Must-Win Home Games
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tennessee Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown
- The Tennessee Titans need a win on Sunday against Houston (1 p.m. ET, CBS) to stay in the NFL Playoff picture.
- Using Bet Labs, we analyze how teams have performed against the spread in must-win games.
We have just three weeks of regular season football left and much is to be determined. The Ravens, Chiefs, and Saints are the only teams to have secured a playoff berth while a slew of contenders fight for the final postseason spots.
If you are a fringe playoff team, games played in Weeks 15-17 are must-win. Take Tennessee, for example. The Titans are 8-5 and currently seventh in the AFC, just behind the Steelers for the final wild card spot thanks to a tiebreaker. If everything breaks right, Ryan Tannehill & Co. could host a playoff game as a division winner, but they could also miss out on the playoffs entirely if the team stumbles down the stretch.
According to The Action Network NFL simulations, Tennessee has a 64.4% chance of making the playoffs. A win over Houston in Week 15 would put the Titans in the driver’s seat for the AFC South crown, but a loss would make them longshots to play past Week 17.
Mike Vrabel’s team needs a win on Sunday. Oddsmakers list the Titans as 3-point favorites at home against the Texans (1 p.m. ET, CBS). It would be easy for casual bettors to talk themselves into wagering on the Titans since they are at home and have playoff motivation. However, history shows that such teams are often overvalued.
Since 2003, fringe playoff teams, which we’ll define as having a .500 to .670 win percentage, have gone 204-215-17 (48.7%) against the spread (ATS) in Weeks 15-17 per Bet Labs. If the team has home field advantage late in the season the record falls to 95-128-6 (42.6%) ATS.
Sharp bettors can profit by fading these fringe playoff teams in must-win home games:
A $100 bettor following this strategy would have returned a profit of $2,794 since 2003.
Casual bettors overvalue playoff motivation and home-field advantage. Oddsmakers are more likely to shade the line for a team perceived to have extra incentive, which creates value betting against a team like Tennessee.
The Titans aren’t the only team to consider fading on Sunday, the Steelers are also at home in a must-win game.
Sunday System Matches
- Houston Texans +3 at Tennessee Titans (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
- Buffalo Bills +2 at Pittsburgh Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC)