NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Dare Bet Texans & Jets To Cover As Double-Digit Underdogs vs. Rams & Bengals?
Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: Texans WR Brandin Cooks
- The Texans and Jets host the Rams and Bengals, respectively, as double-digit home underdogs in Week 8.
- Our NFL betting expert makes the hold-your-nose case for backing both to cover their spreads.
How thick is your stomach lining? If you have issues in that department, please stop reading immediately. If you aren’t worried, though, you may continue on as I explain why I bet the Jets and Texans.
It’s another weekly edition of “hold your nose” on NFL Sunday.
I’ve fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on your perspective — have developed thick skin for backing ugly underdogs in the NFL. Some say it’s my only skill. It does help that I haven’t been hurt by either of these horrendous teams yet this season as I’ve only wagered on the Jets once (in their lone cover) and have yet to bet the Texans.
Hopefully, I’m not reaching for the tums by the end of the weekend.
Jets +11 vs. Bengals
The Jets are a bad football team. Everybody knows this, so I refuse to waste your time trying to detail any redeeming qualities of this roster. That said, I don’t bet on teams — I bet on numbers, and this one is simply way too high.
Prior to last week, this lookahead line sat at Bengals -3.5. And while lookahead lines aren’t the end-all be-all, they are a decent indicator of how the market values two teams at that point in time.
Most importantly, my power ratings were right in line with that lookahead line. Then things obviously changed after last Sunday when…
- The Jets got absolutely stomped at home by a Patriots team New York already faced earlier this season. That result was even more troubling when you consider the Jets had a bye the previous week.
- The Bengals went on the road as 6-point underdogs and upset a Ravens team that Cincinnati had really struggled with in recent seasons. And it’s not like Cincy barely pulled out a victory; it amassed more than 500 yards of total offense in a 41-17 rout.
Those two drastically different results obviously warranted adjustments for both teams: A positive bump for the Bengals and the opposite for the Jets. I personally upgraded the Bengals 1.5 points and downgraded the Jets 1.5 points, which gives us a net +3 adjustment in favor of the Bengals.
Okay, so that brings the line to a shade under a touchdown.
You’re now probably thinking to yourself, “Okay but what about the loss of Zach Wilson?” That’s a fair question, but here’s the thing … I don’t think there’s much of a drop-off between Wilson and Mike White for the sole fact that NY’s quarterback play can’t get much worse.
Wilson has been the worst quarterback in the NFL to date. His -6.7 Completion Percentage Over Expectation is the worst in the league, per NFL Next Gen Stats, and his 40% success rate puts him right with Justin Fields in the basement.
But let’s take a conservative approach. Let’s say it’s a 1.5-point drop-off from Wilson to White, which puts my projected line at approximately Bengals -8.
I still see value in the Jets.
Simply put, I can’t pass up getting 11 with the Jets at home, especially in a game with a minuscule total of 43.
Could the Jets lose 35-3? Sure, but I won’t lose sleep after playing the side I show clear value on in a classic buy low, sell high spot.
- Teams that didn’t cover by 28+ points the week prior (Jets): 116-71-6 (62%)
- Teams that covered by 28+ points the previous week (Bengals): 83-105-6 (44%)
Both of those situations are in play here. How rare is that? It’s only happened twice since 2003, per our data at Action Labs.
Remember this same Bengals team needed a miracle comeback to beat the Jaguars at home after getting shutout in the first half. And this is just a terrible situational spot for the Bengals, who will play their third straight road game (with the Browns on deck) after one of the franchise’s biggest regular-season wins in a long time.
Don’t be shocked if the Bengals come out extremely flat.
There’s also the chance Zach Taylor calls a very inefficient game, and it doesn’t hurt that the Bengals are the slowest NFL team from a pace perspective in neutral game states.
For what it’s worth, only seven other teams over the past 10 years have won their first two games of a rare three-game road trip. Those teams have gone 1-6 (14.3%) against the spread (ATS) in the third over that span, failing to cover by just under a touchdown per game.
Now, that sample size is super insignificant, but I bring it up because this spot reminds me of one of those seven that occurred last year. You may recall a 7-0 Steelers team (fresh off an upset win at Baltimore) go to Dallas as an inflated 14-point favorite against a third-string quarterback. Pittsburgh needed 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 24-19 victory.
I had no hesitation backing Cowboys backup Garrett Gilbert that day and didn’t have any pulling the trigger on Mike White this week.
Texans +15.5 vs. Rams
Simple numbers play here as well as I project this line under at right around Rams -13.5. Now, that isn’t a ton of value, although I am getting above the key number of 14. And even despite Davis Mills starting with Tyrod Taylor not yet ready to return, I at least show some value here.
Mills has performed better at home. And catching more than 14 points at home with an NFL team will always pique my interest. Really any spread higher than seven warrants a second look, even if my ultimate decision comes down to the value I show after adjusting for matchup and situational factors.
For what it’s worth, home dogs of more than seven points have covered at a 55% clip since 2003, per our Action Labs data.
Lastly, the Rams could potentially come out a bit flat for a non-conference road game against the lowly Texans. LA has indeed done just that in the three games it has been favored by 14-plus over the past two seasons. Last week, the Rams pulled out a nine-point victory over the Lions. And last year, the Rams lost outright to the Jets and won an ugly 17-9 game against the Giants.