A pair of second-place teams in the AFC will square off on Sunday when the Oakland Raiders take on the host Houston Texans. Oakland comes into this game in second in the AFC West, just two games behind the Kansas City Chiefs, who are now without Patrick Mahomes for a little bit. Houston trails first-place Indianapolis by just a half-game in the AFC South, though they’re also just a game ahead of Jacksonville and Tennessee, who are tied for third in the division.
Oakland has been up and down this season, which accounts for its 3-3 record. The Raiders are coming off a loss at Green Bay in which Aaron Rodgers accounted for six touchdowns, though the game was close until an Oakland turnover late in the first half that led to a Green Bay score that opened the game up.
Houston has also had an inconsistent campaign, though at 4-3, they’ve been in every game this season. Injuries have been a problem, and that will continue this week, with one of the Texans’ top receivers, Will Fuller, out of this contest.
The moneyline for this contest has the Oakland Raiders +235 and the Houston Texans -275. Houston is favored by six points at home, while the over/under for the game has been set at 52.
Quite A Find
The Oakland running game has been powered by a rookie, as Josh Jacobs leads the Raiders and ranks eighth in the NFL with 554 yards and four touchdowns. Jacobs is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, and he could see plenty of opportunities in this game as the Raiders try to keep the Texans’ offense off the field. Derek Carr has been solid at quarterback, completing 74.1 percent of his passes for 1,410 yards and eight touchdowns. He definitely has a favorite target in tight end Darren Waller, who leads the team with 44 catches for 485 yards and two scores.
Defense has definitely been a problem for the Raiders, who rank in the bottom third of the league, giving up 376.5 yards and 27.5 points per game. A big factor in that is the team’s inability to create turnovers, as Oakland has just five takeaways all season. The Raiders will need to put pressure on Houston’s Deshaun Watson in this one, so defensive end Benson Mayowa will be counted on to add to his team-leading total of 4.5 sacks.
Continuing To Progress
Watson has become one of the more dangerous quarterbacks in the league, though he’s still working on his consistency. The third-year signal-caller has thrown two interceptions in each of his last two games after throwing just one in his first five games this season. Watson has thrown for 1,952 yards and 13 touchdowns as well, though, and he’s also rushed for 196 yards and five scores. He’ll be looking for DeAndre Hopkins, the team’s leading receiver with 49 catches for 508 yards, as well as Kenny Stills (15 catches, 293 yards), who should see more targets with the absence of Fuller.
Defensively, linebacker Whitney Mercilus (5.5 sacks) and defensive end J.J. Watt (four sacks) are a dangerous duo for any opposing quarterback. The Texans have been solid against the run, allowing just 84.3 yards per game to tie for third in the league in the category. Linebackers Zach Cunningham and Benadrick McKinney rank 1-2 on the team in tackles with 53 and 52, respectively.
Houston Pulls Out Win
The Raiders have shown more life than many expected them to this season, and they are definitely on their way up. But, pulling out wins on the road isn’t easy, especially against a team like Houston that has a lot of firepower to its offense. I like Watson to have a big day against the Oakland defense. I’m going with Houston -6 to win and cover in this one.