The National Football League has a Saturday triple-header on their Week 16 schedule beginning with an early contest involving the Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That game will be followed by the New England Patriots hosting the Buffalo Bills and the nightcap features the Los Angeles Rams at the San Francisco 49ers.
All three of these games have playoff implications.
The Texans took over first place in the AFC South Division last week with an upset road win over the Tennessee Titans, ending Tennessee’s four-game winning streak, all victories guided by quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Titans had acquired Tannehill from the Miami Dolphins as a backup to projected starter Marcus Mariota. But, when the one-time second pick in the draft faltered, the reigns of the team was turned over to the backup.
Tannehill took full advantage of his opportunity, guiding the Titans to six wins in his first seven starts before last week’s home loss to Houston.
Imagine if you will what the motivation was for the Texans last Sunday. They went to Tennessee to meet one of the hottest teams in the league with an opportunity to move into sole possession of first place with a road victory. In a hardfought competitive game from start to finish, Houston came away with a three point triumph, 24-21, and now go back on the road to protect the division lead they captured last week.
Problem is, they meet a Buccaneers squad that has also played well in recent weeks, winning their last four games. While Tampa Bay is without a shot for a postseason berth, they are perfectly poised to fill the spoiler role against Houston. The Texans were pumped to play Tennessee last week, but will have trouble recapturing that edge today when they meet the Bucs in Florida.
As for the second game on the schedule, the public has turned their backs on the New England Patriots in favor of the visiting Buffalo Bills.
Perhaps the Patriots are a deep threat short of a complete offense, and they have lost four of their most recent six games against the point spread while dropping three of those games straight-up. They had opened the 2019 season with nine consecutive wins.
The Bills won in Pittsburgh last Sunday night and now are back on the road this week with a chance to catch New England in the AFC East Division standings and perhaps knock the Patriots out of an opening week postseason bye.
You like the odds on the upstart Bills clearing the hurdle over the Patriots on the road in December in a game Tom Brady needs?
But laying nearly a touchdown on the point spread with a New England team not as good as recent editions, and with the Bills defense playing so well, doesn’t inspire me either.
As for the final game of the day, the Rams have little more to play for than to knock the 49ers chances for a top seed position in the NFC playoffs. I have liked the Rams chances all week, but in fact there is a major obstacle in this game.
Last year, 2018, was the Rams year and they advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. This year, the 49ers have played like it is their year, and coming off last week’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons at home does not lend a lot of support for San Francisco losing two straight at Levi’s Stadium.
Liking the Rams is not enough to make a wager on the late game, but solid motivational factors does offer strong support that the Texans will come off their big road win against the Titans with a disappointing loss in Tampa.
Qoxhi Picks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) over Houston Texans