The Houston Texans’ embarrassing loss to New England Monday night was the NFL’s equivalent of being “pantsed” in the middle of the school yard.
Houston stood bare-assed in front of the nation, unable to hide its shame in time before football bettors got a good look at what really lies beneath.
The Texans, who opened as high as -9.5 for Week 15’s home date with the Indianapolis Colts, have been adjusted to as low as 7-point favorites at some online sportsbooks.
Even before the 42-14 thrashing in Foxborough, bettors weren’t sold on Houston being such a big favorite over a feisty Indianapolis squad. The Colts have won three in a row and are 7-1 SU and ATS in their last eight games.
The lone blemish during that span was a loss to New England in Week 11, which played out similar to Houston’s defeat Monday night. Indianapolis was rolled 59-24 as a 10-point road underdog by the Patriots.
The Texans were showing chinks in the armor before Week 14, failing to meet oddsmakers’ expectations in two of the three previous games and are now just 1-3 ATS in the last four outings. The biggest issue in those games has been the downfall of the defense. After ranking among the top in the league for most of the year, Houston has hemorrhaged an average of 30 points against in its last four contests.
Houston sits at 11-2 SU atop the AFC South and while it has clinched a postseason spot, the division crown will come down to the final three games – two of which are against the 9-4 SU Colts.
Here are some other lines making football bettors go “Hmmm…” heading into the weekend:
Carolina Panthers at San Diego Chargers (-3, 46)
The Chargers are the most schizophrenic team in the NFL.
San Diego loses when it should win and wins when it should lose, like last Sunday’s cross-country trip to soggy Pittsburgh. The Bolts shocked the Steelers 34-24 as 7-point underdogs and snapped a four-game skid.
Apparently, that was enough for oddsmakers, who have the Chargers tagged as field-goal favorites at home to a dangerous Carolina team in Week 15.
The Panthers, who have suffered close loss after close loss this season, are coming off a big win over Atlanta. Quarterback Cam Newton finally pulled out of his sophomore slump, passing for 287 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for an additional 116 yards and a score.
This one may have “letdown spot” written all over it as far as Carolina is concerned. But if Newton plays with that confidence in Week 15, there is nothing the beleaguered Bolts can do.
Toledo Rockets vs. Utah State Aggies (-10, 58)
The Aggies were ATS darlings all season, posting a stunning 10-1-1 mark against the spread.
Utah State earned a spot versus Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and has moved from an 8-point favorite to -10, with early action drawn to that ATS windfall.
The Aggies have made a name for themselves as live dogs in recent years and barked loud and proud again this season, going 4-0 ATS as underdogs against the likes of Utah, Wisconsin, BYU and San Jose State. Now, USU faces a foe cut from the same cloth.
Toledo has never backed down from a fight and was also perfect against the spread as an underdog this season, going 5-0 ATS when getting the points. The Rockets almost knocked off Arizona in the season opener, lost by six to Cincinnati, and nearly dashed Northern Illinois’ BCS bowl hopes in Week 12.
Utah State played in this bowl last December, its first postseason appearance since 1997, and lost 24-23 to Ohio as a 1-point favorite on the “Smurf Turf” of Bronco Stadium.