Houston Texans vs. Las Vegas Raiders (10/23 @ 4:05 PM EST)
Overview and Betting
The Houston Texans (1-2-1) will be heading to Sin City this Sunday to take on the Raiders (1-4). Both teams come in looking for their second win and a chance to save their seasons. While the Texans were expected to be bad, the Raiders came in with playoff hopes. If they want a shot at the postseason, they can’t afford a loss on Sunday.
The Texans have surprised bookmakers this season, going 3-1-1 against the spread. The Raiders are 2-3 against the spread after an underwhelming start. The Texans lead the overall series 8-4 and won their last meeting in 2019. The Raiders have been the worst in the league after a bye since 2002, with a record of 3-16.
Though they have just one win, the Texans have played above expectations. They won their first game against Jacksonville, outlasting the Jaguars in a low-scoring brawl. One of the biggest reasons for their “success” is rookie Dameon Pierce. The fourth-round pick from Florida has exploded onto the scene over the last few weeks and is the only back getting carries. Pierce has scored once in each of the previous three weeks, despite the Texan’s poor passing game.
The Texan’s passing offense ranks as one of the worst in the league, led by second-year quarterback Davis Mills. There are flashes where you see his potential, but he’s yet to break 250 passing yards in a game and has just five touchdowns to go with four interceptions. Coach Lovie Smith has started shifting the offensive game plan toward the run, giving Pierce more carries than Mills pass attempts. If the defense can keep them in games, this will be their key to victory.
On defense, the Texans made some big upgrades through the draft. Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (1 INT, one sack) and safety Jalen Pitre (2 INT, one sack) have made an impact early. They’re allowing the third-lowest completion percentage in the NFL (57.6%) and the second-fewest passing touchdowns (4). They’ve needed to cover for a defensive line that ranks toward the bottom of the league in sacks (11) and rushing yards (824).
Las Vegas Raiders
After the major offseason acquisition of receiver Davante Adams, expectations were high for the Raiders. Fast forward to week 7, and they find themselves at 1-4 with three losses against division opponents. The good news is that they appear to be clicking over their last two games. They put up 30+ points in their two games and have had Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams playing at an elite level. Jacobs has gone for over 140 yards on the ground in his last two games and is looking like one of the top backs in the NFL. He should find success Sunday against a weak Texans line.
The Vegas passing game is where the team has struggled this year. With Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller missing much time, defenses can key on Davante Adams. Waller’s absence has been tough to overcome, resulting in the Raiders scoring touchdowns on 46% of their red zone appearances (6th worst in the NFL). The team is hopeful Renfrow will play Sunday, which could give Adams more room to work against a young Texans secondary.
As bad as the Raider’s offense is in the red zone, the defense is even worse. They’re allowing red zone touchdowns to offenses a league-worst 87.4% of the time. They rank toward the bottom of the league in sacks (8) and interceptions (2), but they have faced some good offenses. Maxx Crosby is their biggest threat, as he accounts for six of their eight sacks on the year. His ability to get into the backfield could shatter an already fragile Texans’ defense.
Free Pick: Raiders -7
The Raiders are coming off of back-to-back thirty-point performances and should do so again on Sunday. As bad as they’ve been defensively in the red zone, we don’t see the Texans visiting there often. Vegas will be stacking the box against the run and forcing Davis Mills to beat them.
The Texans have only scored more than twenty points once this year, and we don’t see that changing Sunday. On defense, they’ll need to support their run defense with safeties, meaning the rookie Stingley may find himself alone on Adams a bit too often.
We’re giving up the seven points to roll with the Raiders in this one.