Houston at Arizona (-3)
The Texans are the Richie Incognito of the NFL: big muscles, small brain.
They’re No. 2 in Total Team Yards Differential, but No. 32 in Bendability, No. 31 in Scoreability and No. 31 on the Intelligence Index, ahead of only a Jaguars team likely to go 0-16.
We all know who to blame for their problems: Wade Phillips, the architect of the most powerful force in football, the Curse of Doug Flutie.
Matt Schaub’s historic struggles earlier this season and head coach Gary Kubiak’s sideline scare last week are merely the latest in more than a decade’s worth of collapses caused by the Curse of Flutie.
Now the Texans head to the desert with Phillips himself Houston’s interim head coach.
The reality, though, is that this is a game that the physically gifted Texans can win if they keep their heads in the game.
Case Keenum has been extraordinarily effective in his two starts, with 4 TD, 0 INT, a brilliant 10.5 YPA and stellar 118.0 passer rating. Not bad for a guy who had never thrown an NFL pass until two weeks ago. Hell, it’s not bad for Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, either.
The most encouraging part for Texans fans is that those efforts came against two of the best teams in the league, the undefeated Chiefs with the best defense in football and the very tough Colts, who Keenum and the Texans took to the wire.
Arizona has a good defense, but not a great defense: No. 8 in Defensive Passer Rating, No. 11 in scoring defense and No. 10 in Relative scoring defense (+2.37 PPG).
The Cardinals, meanwhile, still suffer many of the same issues on offense that they faced last year: No. 24 in scoring, No. 29 in Real QB Rating, No. 30 on the Offensive Hog Index. Arizona is also No. 28 in Total Team Yards Differential, a net of -1,229 yards behind the Texans.
Houston should win the physical battles easily. They win the game as long as Keenum doesn’t transform into Schaub before our very eyes.
Pick: Houston 26, Arizona 23