At first glance, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans might not seem evenly matched.
The Texans are 10-4. They’re a couple games removed from a nine-game winning streak.
The Eagles are 7-7. They’ve won back-to-back games once all season.
Despite the Texans having the better overall record, however, it’s the reigning Super Bowl champions who are now favored this week. SB Nation’s odds page shows the Eagles opened as 3.5 point home underdogs but that was prior to their upset win over the Los Angeles Rams. Now it’s the Eagles who are favored by as much as two points.
This line still shows respect to the Texans since the Eagles would be favored by three in a game that’s between two teams viewed as equals. But I also think this line draws into question just how good the Texans truly are.
I don’t think Houston is bad by any means. You don’t go 10-1 in your last 11 games by being horrible. Still, I think signs point to the Texans being “merely good” instead of “actually elite.”
Let’s take a look back at Houston’s big win streak.
Week 4: at Colts, 37-34 (Overtime)
Week 5: vs. Cowboys, 19-16 (Overtime)
Week 6: vs. Bills, 20-13
Week 7: at Jaguars, 20-7
Week 8: vs. Dolphins, 42-23
Week 9: at Broncos, 19-17
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Washington, 23-21
Week 12: vs. Titans, 34-17
Week 13: vs. Browns, 29-13
As you can see, there are a lot of close games in here. That’s a red flag because elite teams don’t just manage to scrape by inferior competition; they blow them out.
Two of these wins came in overtime. Another two (Broncos, Washington) came on last second missed field goals by their opponents. A number of these games easily could’ve gone the other way.
Of the four games that weren’t so close (final score difference of more than one possession), the opponent quarterbacks were: Blake Bortles, Brock Osweiler, Marcus Mariota, and a rookie Baker Mayfield. Not exactly the toughest group there.
The objective metrics support my subjective analysis of the Texans’ as well. Despite being tied for the fifth most wins, Houston’s point differential is only tied for eighth best in the league. Football Outsiders, meanwhile, has the Texans ranked 14th in DVOA. That’s just three spots ahead of the Eagles, who now check in at 17th.
When it comes to trends, history might not be on the Texans’ side as well. Houston is 9-21 straight up as road underdogs since the Bill O’Brien era began in 2014. That’s tied for the 10th worst percentage in that span. The Eagles are 15-4 straight up as home favorites since the Doug Pederson era began in 2016. That’s good for the sixth best rate.
Of course, three of the Eagles’ four losses as home favorites in the last three years have come this season. Just because Philadelphia beat the Rams doesn’t guarantee that the season is totally back on track.
But there’s ample reason to believe in the Eagles’ chances to beat the Texans this week. It’s not so crazy that they’re slight favorites.
Which bet do you like more?
This poll is closed