Cardinals vs. Texans Odds, NFL Picks, Predictions: Porous Texans Offense Makes This Over/Under Valuable
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyler Murray.
|Time||4:25 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
At 6-0, the Arizona Cardinals are deservedly the NFL’s only undefeated team. If you look at their stats, you’ll find a very balanced football team on both sides. Thus, it could be more difficult for weaker teams to take advantage of any weaknesses.
The Cardinals will face one of those lesser teams on Sunday with the 1-5 Texans coming to town. Arizona is as high as an 18.5-point favorite in the game. While that point spread might speak to the gap between both teams at the moment, it’s also reflective of the fact that Houston is currently starting rookie Davis Mills at quarterback.
You might be tempted to grab the points with the underdog, but note that it has been a struggle for Mills when he’s playing away from NRG Stadium.
As a result, it might be more prudent to find another way to invest in this game, and that’s why I’ll be looking to target the total for Sunday.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Cardinals vs. Texans Injury Report
- TE Darrell Daniels (hamstring): Out
- DT Rashard Lawrence (calf): Out
- ILB Jordan Hicks (toe/ankle): Questionable
- LB Devon Kennard (shoulder): Questionable
- ILB Tanner Vallejo (hand): Questionable
- DL Jaleel Johnson (back): Out
- WR Chris Conley (neck): Questionable
- WR Nico Collins (foot): Questionable
- OL Justin Britt (knee): Questionable
Cardinals vs. Texans Matchup
|Texans Offense||DVOA Rank||Cardinals Defense|
|Texans Defense||DVOA Rank||Cardinals Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Mills Needs to Step Up Away From Home
The DVOA rankings for the Texans pretty much tell the story. I’m much more interested in what this Houston team can do offensively and how that can impact the total.
Houston is 10th in run play percentage (44.35%) and for a team that runs the ball as much as the Texans do, there’s not much success to show for their efforts. Houston is dead last in the league with 3.3 yards per rush attempt and 26th with 87.2 rushing yards per game. The reality is that the Texans are likely to continue to run the ball to protect their rookie quarterback.
In Week 6, Mills broke his previous career high of 29 passing attempts by chucking the ball 43 times. That also resulted in two interceptions along the way. I think Houston is in for diminishing returns if he’s asked to throw the ball that many times.
One major problem for the Texans is that they’re repeatedly falling behind the chains. Per Sharp Football Stats, their 42% success rate on first down is the worst in the league. As a result, those numbers put Houston at a tremendous disadvantage regarding down and distance.
When I look over Mills’ stats, I don’t recall too many occasions when I gave a ton of attention to a quarterback’s splits. That’s a strategy I’m more likely to deploy in baseball.
However, the numbers for Mills are pretty stark in terms of home vs. away. The Stanford product has thrown seven interceptions this season, and each has come on the road. His passer rating plunges from 119.0 to 41.3 in this spot, while his completion rate drops from 70.2% down to 58.5%.
Houston has scored a total of three points on the road with Mills as the starting quarterback. Those away performances are a clear red flag for me, and I suspect things will be just as difficult for him against a Cardinals team that’s ranked second in Defensive DVOA.
Cardinals Dominate Matchup vs. Texans
I’m struggling to pick out exactly how the Texans might look to attack the Cardinals. They don’t run the ball particularly well, and they might have a quarterback who has a case of the yips on the road. For Houston to have any chance of being competitive in this game, it’ll need Arizona to play to below its standards.
I mentioned earlier that the Cardinals are a very balanced team. Their quarterback, Kyler Murray, might get the headlines, but the defense also deserves plenty of plaudits. The Texans will have to decide whether they can get anything out of their feeble rushing attack against a Cardinals defense that’s 23rd in allowing 128 yards per game. Should they remain committed to the run, I wouldn’t expect much success from them. I also won’t have much of an issue with that game plan either — so long as the clock continues to tick down.
Another question that will need answering is how much effort is required for the Cardinals to win this game? This is where their balance can benefit them — particularly against weaker teams. Arizona can win this game with a rushing attack that averages over four years per carry, or move the ball through the air as it ranks ninth with 272.3 passing yards per game.
The defense can also play a significant role on Sunday. After all, Pro Football Reference ranks Arizona’s pass defense second in expected points contributed (13.37). Whether it’s the defense making plays or the Texans committing unforced errors, there are plenty of ways for the Cardinals to get to the finish line without using too many bullets.
Cardinals vs. Texans Picks
I’ve got to see this Texans team put up points on the road with Mills under center before backing them to do so. There aren’t many good options for Houston, whether it plans to stick with the run or risk more interceptions in the passing game with the rookie throwing the ball.
As far as the Cardinals are concerned, while this could certainly be a letdown spot for them given the opponent, I could easily see them doing most — if not all — of the scoring in the game. Thus, my projections don’t point to a high-scoring game in this contest.
Here’s a trend that lends further support for this game staying under the total: In Arizona’s last eight games as a favorite of seven points or more, the under is on a perfect 8-0 run.
That’s certainly a trend that you can get behind, so I’ll look to grab the under at 47.5 while it’s still available.
Pick: Under 47.5 | Bet to 47
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