NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Chargers vs. Texans: How Status of Austin Ekeler, Brandin Cooks Impact Total
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Herbert
- NFL odds for Chargers vs. Texans have moved in the final 24 hours before kickoff, with the over/under back to 46 points.
- The good news is the total is now perfectly atop our expert's recommended betting range.
- With Austin Ekeler and Brandin Cooks officially out, find out how we're finding value on this Week 16 matchup below.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
After a 30-16 win on the road over the Jaguars last week, the Texans will hope to continue their momentum when they host the Chargers this Sunday.
The 3-11 Texans had their offense firing on all cylinders, spearheaded by a strong performance from wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who had seven receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns in Jacksonville.
The 8-6 Chargers, meanwhile, found themselves on the wrong end of a 34-28 score at home against the surging Chiefs.
With some key players landing on the COVID-19 list earlier this week, should we be looking for value on this Week 16 total? Let’s take a closer look.
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Chargers vs. Texans Injury Report
Chargers vs. Texans Matchup
|Chargers Offense||DVOA Rank||Texans Defense|
|Chargers Defense||DVOA Rank||Texans Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Chargers’ Receivers Have Favorable Matchups
Justin Herbert quickly stamped out worries of a sophomore slump, putting together another strong season for the Chargers. Through 14 games, Herbert has compiled an impressive 4,058 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions to go along with a strong 66% completion percentage.
While this may feel like another slam dunk spot for Herbert and the Chargers’ passing game, the Texans’ secondary surprisingly comes into this matchup ranked 10th in pass DVOA on the season. That said, Herbert’s biggest receiving threats — Keenan Allen and Mike Williams — both have strong individual matchups.
Per PFF’s WR/CB Matchup tool, Allen has the best matchup this week. He’ll come in with a 97.0 matchup advantage against his primary defenders, one of the best marks among all players in Week 16. Williams isn’t far behind, coming in with an 88.6 matchup against his projected defenders as well. No surprise, however, as each has proven capable of taking advantage of any matchup that comes their way.
While the rushing matchup will be enticing against the Texans’ 27th-ranked defense in rush DVOA, the Chargers could be short-handed with Austin Ekeler potentially out due to COVID-19 protocols. (He told Yahoo mid-week that it’s “not looking good” for Sunday.) That likely means a heavy dose of Justin Jackson, who put up a career-high 86 rushing yards on 13 carries last week with Ekeler active.
Jackson is undoubtedly a step down from Ekeler, particularly in a featured role, but he showed last week that he’s capable of a serviceable outing when called upon. Second-year back Joshua Kelley also figures to mix in, but his 3.4 yards per carry has been uninspiring.
Texans Likely To Rely On Run Game
The Texans offense looked formidable with Davis Mills under center last week, scoring 30 points in the road victory. While that performance took place against a porous defense, it bodes well for their confidence heading into Week 16.
Mills completed 63% of his passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns to go with one interception. Both of his touchdown passes found Cooks, who finished the day with 102 receiving yards and two scores. Unfortunately for Mills, he could be working without his top option this week as Cooks landed on the COVID-19 list this Wednesday (we’re tracking who is on COVID lists here).
If Cooks can’t go, the Texans will be short on viable receiving options, with Chris Conley and rookie Nico Collins slotting in as the top remaining alternatives. The matchup for Mills is relatively neutral — the Chargers currently rank 12th in pass DVOA — but without Cooks, their passing game prospects are bleak.
Either way, look for the Texans to try and establish the ground game early against this 31st-ranked Chargers rush defense. That means a heavy dose of Rex Burkhead, which isn’t exactly comforting, given he averaged just 2.6 yards per carry last week in a featured role and is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry on the season.
David Johnson and Royce Freeman will also figure into the rotation, but neither has been very effective this season, either. Regardless of who leads the way this week in carries, expectations should be tempered with this group.
NFL Pick: Chargers vs. Texans
With some of the biggest weapons on both offenses potentially sidelined, each will likely be working at less than 100% for Sunday’s matchup.
While the Chargers have enough supplemental weapons with Herbert, Allen and Williams to still find success offensively, the Texans will be severely hampered without Cooks on the field. Not only does the absence of Cooks eliminate any viable downfield threat, it leaves two uninspiring options in Conley and Collins on the outside for Mills to target as he tries to keep up with this Chargers offense. If this were any other offense, exploiting the Chargers’ poor rush defense would be a viable alternative, but the combination of Burkhead, Johnson and Freeman has yielded minor gains all season.
I expect minimal scoring and a myriad of short drives for the Texans on Sunday.
On the other side, a hampered run game without Ekeler, coupled with a matchup against a top-10 Texans pass defense, should hamper the Chargers offense just enough for them to perform below expectations. I expect them to be effective enough to win this game with ease, but the passing matchup and loss of Ekeler should be enough to limit their upside in this one.
Given the deficiencies on both sides, I’m targeting the under in this game. The current total sits at 46, but I’ll be playing it down to 44 if the line shifts prior to kickoff (check real-time NFL odds here).
Pick: Under 46 | Bet to: 44
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