Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:01 AM
TNF - Dolphins at Texans
Editor's Note: Antony Dinero has gone 48-22 (68.6%, +2312) in October and has hit on 21 of 31 totals. He is 9-3 ATS on his last 12 Thursday picks. Dinero is 105-71-5 ( 59.7% , +2447) for the entire 2018 regular season. Don't miss out on NFL Winners from Antony Dinero on VegasInsider.com this sesaon. Click to win!
Miami at Houston (-7.5, 44), 8:20 pm ET, FOX/NFLN
On a Thursday night less than 14 months ago, Deshaun Watson was unleashed. The rookie who won a national title at Clemson made his first start in Cincinnati a few weeks earlier than most expected he would. The Texans offensive line was a disaster and head coach Bill O’Brien thought his elusiveness gave his team their best chance to win.
Although most of his throws were off and he finished with only 125 passing yards, Watson’s second-quarter 49-yard run that ended up doubling as the game’s only touchdown dropped jaws and opened eyes, ultimately serving as the beginning of a fun six-week rollercoaster ride as the Texans’ starter.
Watson would tear his ACL just before Week 9, but over his five starts, Houston averaged 37 points per game. Expectations that he’d be able to hit the ground running again this season didn’t account for everything moving too fast for him early this season. He physically looked a step slow but his feel for the game appeared to be much further behind. The second-year starter appeared to be thinking out there, which is something you simply can’t get away with at this level.
Rock bottom for the Texans (4-3 SU, 2-4-1 ATS) remains becoming the Giants’ first and only victim thus far this season despite Watson’s 385 passing yards, but the team has since won four straight and has a chance to reach the season’s halfway point with a winning record and sole possession of the AFC South if they hold serve against the Dolphins (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS) here. Houston’s defense has done the heavy lifting during this run, but Watson has looked increasingly more comfortable despite continuing to get stung by the turnover bug.
It’s helped that he’s gotten back talent like RB Lamar Miller and seen key offensive players that came into the season banged up get healthier, but it definitely also feels like Watson and his group can take their game to another level. Since they open November in Denver before a well-placed bye week, these next two games are going to decide a lot for Houston, which can really set itself up nicely for the stretch run with a pair of victories over slumping squads. Beating the Broncos at Mile High is never easy, but former Texans starting QB Case Keenum has had his issues and head coach Vance Joseph’s tenure is on the rocks despite a rout of Arizona in last week’s Thursday night game.
Before visiting Keenum, Houston will cross paths with another of its ex-quarterbacks with Brock Osweiler having temporarily emerged as the man in Miami. With Ryan Tannehill out for at least another week due to a shoulder sprain, Osweiler will make his third start and will be looking for his third straight 300-yard passing game. Head coach Adam Gase hasn’t deviated from his pass-happy offense despite having the backup in place, so Osweiler has completed 50 of 75 passes for over 700 yards over the past two weeks, splitting games against the Bears and Lions.
Although the stats are gaudy, receiver have doen the bulk of the work, getting upfield after taking short passes from Osweiler, who isn’t exactly known for stretching the field. He’s been more than serviceable however, but must now prove he can get it done in a road atmosphere, albeit one he’s very familiar with. Osweiler signed a lucrative four-year, $72 million deal in 2016 and would’ve probably been Houston’s starter in this one had they not quickly given up on him after a 16-interception season that got him benched and ultimately traded to Cleveland. Texans fans will boo him lustily.
Dolphins fans will watch him while shielding their eyes in fear, hoping he’s able to avoid the turnover bug against a defense that has really picked it up of late, surrendering an average of 12 points in their last three wins. Houston’s victims in those games, the Cowboys, Bills and Jaguars, have all been struggling offensively, but it is a credit to the Texans that they’ve played a role in that. They bailed out the offense with a pick-six against Buffalo and come into this one reasonably healthy, especially by their standards. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are both in the mix and appear fresh.
The same can’t be said for the Dolphins, as you’ll read below in the TNF Injury report. Weather isn’t a factor here since NRG Stadium has a retractable roof and it’s expected to be a mild 65-degree night. The Texans are favored but haven’t fared well in the role, covering in only one of the five games they’ve been favored to win this season. Houston is 0-3 as a home favorite this season and dropped their last game as home ‘chalk’ in 2017. It is 2-8 over its last 10 home games as a favorite of seven or more points. Meanwhile, Miami is 1-7 against the number in their last eight road games and have dropped their last two by double-digits after winning at the Jets in Week 2.
Season win total: 6.5 (Over -140, Under +120)
Odds to win AFC East: 6/1 to 10/1
Odds to win AFC: 25/1 to 45/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 60/1 to 100/1
Season win total: 8.5 (Over -140, Under +120)
Odds to win AFC South: 2/1 to 4/5
Odds to win AFC: 23/1 to 11/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 50/1 to 25/1
One glimpse at the numbers above can tell you these are teams headed in opposite directions, at least in terms of perception. The Texans saw their odds to win their division, conference and the Super Bowl all improve, while Miami's numbers dipped following its home loss to Detroit.
The Dolphins are back to the 10/1 that they opened the season at to win the AFC East even though the Patriots have looked vulnerable. Houston opened the season 2-to-1 to win the AFC South, just behind Jacksonville (7/4) and were available at that number last week before taking sole possession of the division lead. That might have been the best number we'll see for them if the Texans take care of business before their bye.
As far as this matchup is concerned, this line was off when the Westgate's early numbers were announced last week and opened at -7 before climbing back up to where it currently resides at -7.5. There are some -7 (-120) figures out there and money on Miami could see this get to -7 by kickoff. Total numbers are available below.
Houston opened at -320 on the money line and is available at -340/-350 at the moment. If you like the home 'dog outright, a payout on an the Dolphins win will get you +290 to +310 depending on the shop.
Losing Tannehill might be the biggest problem the Dolphins have faced, but far from the only one. Injuries have claimed guard Josh Sitton and center Daniel Kilgore, while electric WR Albert Wilson landed on IR with an awful hip injury suffered against the Lions and fellow top receiving threat Kenny Stills suffered a groin injury that will keep him out here.
Osweiler will have to work with former first-round pick DeVante Parker, who has feuding with Miami management and was seemingly on the way out after being inactive. Leonte Caroo was promoted from the practice squad. Those two join Danny Amendola and Jakeem Grant as Osweiler’s receiving corps in addition to tight ends Nick O’Leary and A.J. Derby. Mike Gesicki is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. Amendola and RB Kenyan Drake were limited with shoulder injuries this week, so Osweiler hasn’t gotten in much practice time.
The Texans have their best players available, but have had their own injury headaches. Safety Andre Hal will be missing in addition to corners Aaron Colvin and Shareece Wright, which is key since numbers are thin with Kayvon Webster (quad) and Kevin Johnson (concussion) already on IR. LB Brian Peters (ankle) is also out. The offense won’t have guard Zach Fulton (ankle) up front and will be missing WR Keke Coutee (hamstring) and TE Ryan Griffin (illness) from Watson’s arsenal of playmakers. University of Miami product and former Dolphin Lamar Miller looked great last week, racking up 100 yards on 22 carries.
Thursday’s total opened at 45 ½ and the number is sitting at 44 as of Thursday morning.
Weekly “Total Talk” writer Chris David of VegasInsider.com provided his thoughts on this matchup:
"Looking at the form and statistics for both clubs, I agree with the downward movement and would expect it drop further. The Texans defense has looked sharp the last three weeks, surrendering just 12 points per game albeit against three low-scoring offenses. A great effort should be expected in this spot again, knowing the Dolphins are ranked 24th in scoring offense (21.6 PPG) and that number dips to 14.7 PPG on the road.
"Another reason to lean low is based on what we’ve seen this season from Houston’s offense. The offensive line is a mess and Watson has taken way too many hits," explained David. "In six starts last season, Houston averaged 34.6 PPG and that number is down to 22.1 PPG in seven games this fall. A lot of folks were quick to anoint Watson as the next big-thing but if he can’t move the ball against a suspect Miami defense, then I would expect the critics to finally reverse their premature praise."
The ‘over’ has cashed cash in the last four Thursday night matchups and the high side is 5-2 on the season in this spot. Bettors pressing their bets with first-half wagers have seen the ‘over’ go 5-2 in these games as well. Miami's defense is surrendering 25.3 points and 403.5 yards per game.
"If you’re hesitant to jump in early, keep your live betting options open, especially for the second-half," said David. "The Dolphins have watched the ‘under’ go 3-0 on the road and they’re only averaging 3.3 PPG as visitors in the final 30 minutes."
The Dolphins pasted the Texans 44-26 in the last meeting. The ‘over’ (46) was never in doubt and almost cashed at halftime with Miami building a 41-0 lead.
ALL-TIME MEETINGS (Houston 7-1 SU, 5-3 ATS last 8; UNDER 4-3-1)
10/25/15 Miami 44-26 vs. Houston (MIA -4.5, 44.5)
9/9/12 Houston 30-10 at Miami (HOU -13.5, 41.5)
9/18/11 Houston 23-13 vs. Miami (HOU -3, 47.5)
12/27/09 Houston 27-20 at Miami (HOU +2, 47)
10/12/08 Houston 29-28 vs. Miami (MIA +3, 44.5)
10/7/07 Houston 22-19 vs. Miami (MIA +5.5, 43.5)
10/1/06 Houston 17-15 vs. Miami (HOU +4, 40)
9/7/03 Houston 21-20 at Miami (HOU +14, 34.5)
Of the props available below at [...], I'd ride the first challenge being successful because most refs are terrible and will take a shot that there is a defense or special teams TD for a solid return. I'd also recommend Lamar Miller in DFS.
Team to reach 10 points first: (Texans -220, Dolphins +180)
Team to reach 20 points first: (Texans -260, Dolphins +220)
Team to score first: (Texans -160, Dolphins +140)
Team to score last: (Texans -170, Dolphins +150)
Team to challenge first: (Texans -110, Dolphins -110)
First score: (Touchdown -145, FG/Safety +125)
First turnover: (None +800, Fumble +170, INT -220)
Highest scoring half: 1st -115, 2nd + OT -105)
Total FGs made by both teams: (3.5, Over (+110, Under -135)
Team with longest TD scored: (Texans -160, Dolphins +140)
2-point conversion action: (Successful +340, No conversion -425)
4th down conversion action: (Successful -200, No conversion +170)
Will there be a defensive or special teams TD?: (Yes +180, No -220)
Will there be a kickoff return touchdown?: (Yes +1600, No -3300)
Will there be a punt return touchdown?: (Yes +1200, No -2000)
Will there be overtime?: (Yes +1000, No -1500)
Will the game end in a tie: (Yes +4000, No -15000)
Will the first coach's challenge be successful: Yes -120, No +100
Will there be 3 straight scores by either team: (Yes -220, No +180)
NEXT WEEK'S NUMBERS POSTED
Westgate Vegas opens its advance lines for the following week on Tuesdays and Week 9 currently has the Texans liisted as a 1.5-point road favorite in that aforementioned game at the Broncos. The Dolphins will be back home to host the Jets on Sunday. No line was listed.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA