Saturday’s Tip Sheet

Texans (-3, 49 ½) at Buccaneers – 1:00 PM EST

Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late for Tampa Bay (7-7 SU, 5-8-1 ATS), who is playing its best football towards the end of the season. The Buccaneers started 2-6, but have caught fire by winning five of their last six games, while riding a four-game hot streak to reach .500 for the first time since Week 4. The key behind this resurgence has been quarterback Jameis Winston, who is the current leader in passing yards in the NFL.

Winston is the first player in NFL history to throw for over 450 yards in consecutive games, as tossed 456 yards in a 38-35 home triumph over the Colts in Week 14, followed by a 458-yard effort in last Sunday’s 38-17 rout of the Lions. Winston passed Dallas’ Dak Prescott for the lead in the passing yardage category as the former top pick has eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark 10 times this season, although the Bucs are 5-5 in those games.

The Texans (9-5 SU, 7-7 ATS) are one step closer to back-to-back division titles as Houston held off Tennessee last Sunday in Nashville, 24-21. Houston rebounded from an ugly home loss to Denver the previous week as the Texans built a 14-0 halftime lead behind a pair of touchdown passes from Deshaun Watson to Kenny Stills. Watson was intercepted twice for the second straight game, but Houston improved to 6-2 ATS this season in the underdog role.

A victory by Houston on Saturday will clinch the AFC South championship, or the Texans can celebrate on Sunday if the Titans lose at home to the Saints. The Texans face the Titans once again at NRG Stadium in Week 17 in a potential winner-take-all contest, but it will only matter if Houston loses and Tennessee wins in Week 16.

Houston has not been a reliable favorite this season by posting a 1-5 ATS mark, with the lone cover in this situation coming in a 53-32 blowout of Atlanta in Week 5 as four-point chalk. However, the Texans have gone 4-2 SU in those games with three of those victories coming by three points or less.

Tampa Bay started the season with road underdog victories against Carolina and Los Angeles, but the Bucs slumped in the ‘dog role by failing to cover in five straight opportunities when receiving points. The Bucs ended that skid with a Week 12 blowout of the Falcons, as Tampa Bay is in the home underdog role for only the second time this season.

From a totals perspective, Tampa Bay is riding an incredible 11-1 OVER run, while topping the 30-point mark seven times in this stretch. The Texans have seen the UNDER cash in the last three road contests, while not eclipsing the 28-point mark in the past eight games overall.

Bills at Patriots (-6 ½, 36 ½) – 4:30 PM EST

The AFC East has been dominated by New England (11-3 SU, 8-6 ATS) over the last 16 seasons as the Patriots have captured 15 division titles. However, Bill Belichick’s team still hasn’t wrapped up the division yet heading into Week 16, as New England needs to fight off a feisty Buffalo squad, that clinched a playoff berth last week.

With a victory on Saturday, New England can celebrate its 11th consecutive AFC East title. The Patriots bounced back from a home loss to the Chiefs in Week 14 to rout the hapless Bengals, 34-13 last Sunday as 10 ½-point road favorites. Cincinnati actually led, 10-7 after the first quarter before New England scored 20 unanswered points to take control. Tom Brady threw for less than 200 yards for the third time in four games as the future Hall of Famer racked up a season-low 128 yards, although he connected on a pair of touchdown passes.

The Bills (10-4 SU, 9-4-1 ATS) improved to 6-1 on the road this season after holding off the Steelers last Sunday night, 17-10 as one-point underdogs. Buffalo’s defense intercepted Pittsburgh quarterback Devlin Hodges four times, while Josh Allen hit Tyler Kroft on a 14-yard touchdown for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. The Bills cashed the UNDER in six of seven road games this season, as Buffalo has allowed 20 points or less in each contest away from New Era Field.

In the first matchup this season in Buffalo back in Week 4, the Patriots edge the Bills, 16-10 for their eight consecutive road win in the series. The Bills covered as seven-point underdogs in spite of falling behind 13-0 after the first quarter. New England was limited to one field goal in the final three quarters, while its only touchdown came on a blocked punt return in the first quarter. Brady was limited to 150 yards, while the Patriots were picked up only 11 first downs compared to 23 first downs for Buffalo.

In the last five visits to Gillette Stadium, the Bills have not busted the 17-point mark, but are 2-3 in the past five trips to Foxborough. Granted, one of those victories came in 2016 when Brady was serving his four-game suspension for “Deflategate” in a 16-0 shutout by the Bills. The Patriots are 15-1 at home against the Bills with Brady starting at quarterback as the lone loss came in Week 17 in 2014 in a contest that he played only the first half.

The Bills are currently on a 4-0 run to the UNDER, while seeking their fifth cover in the road underdog role. The Patriots are 4-2 to the OVER at Gillette Stadium, as New England has scored just 29 points in its last two home contests against Kansas City and Dallas.

Rams at 49ers (-6 ½, 45) – 8:15 PM EST

The two-year run of NFC West championships for Los Angeles (8-6 SU, 9-5 ATS) will come to an end this season as either San Francisco or Seattle will be crowned the division title. The Rams need a miracle if they want an opportunity to defend their NFC championship as Los Angeles needs to win out and for Minnesota to lose to Green Bay and Chicago in order to clinch a Wild Card berth.

The Rams suffered a crucial blow to their playoff hopes in a 44-21 rout at the hands of the Cowboys last Sunday. Los Angeles knocked off Arizona and Seattle in consecutive weeks to reach 8-5, but Dallas ran off 30 unanswered points after Todd Gurley’s touchdown run to make it a 7-7 game early in the second quarter. Gurley was limited to 20 yards on 11 carries as the Rams have lost three road games in a season for the first time in Sean McVay’s three-year tenure as head coach.

The 49ers (11-3 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) are not in the clear for a first-round bye yet after getting stunned by the Falcons last Sunday, 29-22. Atlanta scored two touchdowns in the final two seconds, which sounds hard to believe, but Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones on the go-ahead score, then the Falcons recovered a fumble in the end zone after several desperation laterals on the ensuing kickoff to give OVER backers a miracle win on the total of 50.

San Francisco began the season at 8-0, but the Niners are 3-3 the last six games and face Seattle on the road next Sunday for the NFC West title. Kyle Shanahan’s team owns a dreadful 0-5-1 ATS mark as a favorite of six points or more this season, which includes home defeats to the Seahawks and Falcons. Depending on how things break over the final two weeks, the Niners could sit with home-field advantage in the NFC, or be relegated to Wild Card weekend since four teams currently possess 11-3 marks (Seattle, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Green Bay).

The Rams swept the 49ers last season, but San Francisco captured the first meeting in 2019 at the L.A. Coliseum back in Week 6. Los Angeles entered on a two-game skid and couldn’t get any offense going in a 20-7 setback to San Francisco as three-point home favorites. Gurley sat out that loss for the Rams with an injury, while quarterback Jared Goff was limited to 78 yards passing as L.A. tries to avoid their first sweep to San Francisco since 2016.

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