Wednesday, November 30, 2011

JZN NFL Predictions vs. Spread: Atlanta Falcons at Houston Texans (Week 13, 2011-12)

The early spread on this game is Falcons (-1.5). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for in pick ’em leagues. All lines from Y! Sports and injury reports from CBS Sports as of November 30, 2011. Always update yourselves with injury lines because they’ll change throughout the week. Please note that ATS means “Against the spread.”

*My* Current Personal Picks Record (Straights Picks Only)
Houston Texans 8-3
Atlanta Falcons 8-3

Key Injuries
DE Cliff Matthews, CB Kelvin Hayden, CB Brent Grimes, LB Stephen Nicholas, QB Matt Leinart (IR), LB Darryl Sharpton (Out)

Keys to the Game
  • Atlanta Falcons’ run defense vs. Arian Foster and Ben Tate
  • Can T.J. Yates control the game?
  • Can the Texans’ defense create turnovers and win field possession?
  • Can the Texans contain Andre Johnson?
  • Can the Texans continue their resilient approach to injuries (Matt Schaub, Mario Williams, etc.)?

Summary
The Texans are down to their third-string quarterback with T.J. Yates. The Falcons are trying to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South race.

Statistically, the Texans have the NFL’s No. 1 defense. They’re No. 2 in pass defense and No. 4 in run defense. They’re also No. 3 in run offense as they’re averaging over 150 rushing yards per game with Arian Foster and Ben Tate.

The Falcons match up well with the Texans because they have the NFL’s no. 2 run defense. They also have enough offensive firepower that they should pull away from the Texans in the fourth quarter. What concerns me is the line of (-1.5). That sounds like a sucker bet because Vegas probably realizes that few people are betting on the Texans with a third-string quarterback.

I’m still cautiously picking the Falcons here. However, the Texans aren't completely inept with Yates. They’re sort of like the New York Jets of the past two seasons with Mark Sanchez. The Jets had a great run game and a great overall defense. However, they had an error-prone passer. The Jets had to win games in spite of Sanchez’s regular-season performance.

Final Predictions:
Against the Spread: Atlanta Falcons (-1.5)
Straight: Atlanta Falcons 17, Houston Texans 10

Stat sources:

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