NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Overrated/Underrated
by Dennis Ranahan

The National Football League kicks off Week Eight action tonight with a Thursday night matchup between two teams with winning records that arrived at their records on almost totally different paths. The Houston Texans opened with three straight losses and bring a four game winning streak into tonight's game.

The Miami Dolphins opened their 2018 campaign with three straight wins but have only one victory over their four most recent outings.

Another thing in contrast between these two teams is that the Texans came into the season with high hopes and were overrated, the Dolphins opened this campaign with low expectations and were underrated. It was those two conflicting factors that first led the the Texans losing their first three games and the Dolphins winning theirs. But, what does all the mean for tonight’s game in Texas?

First, to bet on the Texans to clear a seven point spread is banking on a low percentage play. The only game this season the Texans won by more than seven points was last Sunday when as underdogs in Jacksonville they downed the Jaguars, 20-7. As a favorite this year, the Texans lost to Tennessee, lost to the New York Giants, beat the Indianapolis Colts by three while favored by one point and didn’t cover against the Dallas Cowboys, a three point win while favored by 3½ points.

Now, because the Texans opened the season overrated, we can now see that four straight wins have again lifted their hopes slightly above their actual talent level.

So, first thing we know tonight is that we don’t want the Texans as a touchdown favorite on the point spread.

Does that mean we bet the Dolphins tonight?

There are problems with that side of this matchup too.

Miami is counting on quarterback Brock Osweiler, who won his first start over the Chicago Bears in relief of the injured Ryan Tannehill, and lost last week at home to the Detroit Lions. Tonight, he makes his first road start for Miami. He is also making this start on a Thursday night on the road, giving him less time to prepare on a short week.

Does more time help Osweiler?

You’d have to go pretty deep into the statistical pool to find a reason to support Osweiler. He had a couple respectful outings as a member of the Denver Broncos in their Super Bowl season three years ago in relief of an injured Peyton Manning. But, that success was much more pinned to an outstanding Denver defense and a game plan devised not to have Osweiler win the game for Denver … but rather not lose it.

Tonight, in Houston, if the Dolphins are to beat the Texans, Osweiler is going to have to contribute to the win because the Dolphins defense is not good enough to win it alone.

So, what does that leave us with for this Thursday Night Football contest?

A Houston team that is a bad bet when favored by this many points, and a Dolphins team unlikely to end the night with more wins on the season than the Texans.

If push comes to shove, I’d have to bend with Miami and the points, but it is not worthy of a money investment.