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  • Although the Texans come into this one having won four straight, the team’s offense hasn’t exactly been explosive. Here's why they don't deserve to be big favorites in their Thursday night showdown vs. the Dolphins.
By Scott Gramling
October 24, 2018

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans (-7.5)

Thu. 10/25, 8:20 p.m. ET

Three things you need to know before betting on Dolphins-Texans:

1. Although the Texans may appear on the surface to be riding high as they go for their fifth straight win on Thursday night, Houston is just 2-9-1 against the spread over its past dozen games dating back to last season. This includes an 0-4-1 ATS mark at home during that span. The Texans have failed to beat the spread in any of their three 2018 home games despite having yet to host a team that has had a winning record at any point this season. The first of those opponents was the New York Giants, which led Houston by 12 until a Texans touchdown with one second remaining that trimmed the final margin to 27-22 in the only game New York has won all season. Two weeks later, Houston prevailed at home, 19-16 in overtime, as a 3.5-point favorite against a Dallas squad that has gone 0-3 both straight up and against the spread in its other three 2018 road games. That was followed by a 20-13 Texans victory as a 10-point favorite over Buffalo, which led with less than two minutes to go before the turnover machine known as Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman gift-wrapped the game with an interception that Houston returned for a touchdown and a second interception 48 seconds later that sealed the game for the Texans. When the Dolphins and Texans last met in 2015, Miami raced out to a 41-0 halftime lead—tied for the fourth-largest halftime lead in NFL history—and cruised to a 44-26 victory. In that game, Ryan Tannehill threw for 282 yards and four touchdowns—he completed all 12 of his throws in the first half for 231 yards—while Lamar Miller, a Dolphin at the time, ran for 175 yards on 14 carries.

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2. When an NFL team is favored by a touchdown, it tends to be a team with a dynamic offense. That’s not the case here, as the better offense appears to be the Thursday underdog. The Dolphins have averaged 431.5 total yards per game against the Bears and Lions over the past couple of weeks despite having backup quarterback Brock Osweiler guiding the offense while Tannehill is sidelined with a shoulder injury. After leading Miami to a 31-28 victory in Week 6 with 380 passing yards and three touchdowns, Osweiler also played well in last week's 32-21 loss to Detroit. He completed 71% of his passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Houston, meanwhile, has averaged only 244.0 total yards per game over its past two games as quarterback Deshaun Watson has completed just 55% of his passes for 316 yards (303 fewer than Osweiler), two touchdowns and two interceptions. Watson, who has spent the past couple of games playing through a chest injury he suffered against Dallas, made the 800-mile trip to and then back from Jacksonville last weekend by bus because the team was reportedly concerned about the effects air pressure could have on his injuries.

3. While bettors might be tempted to back the Texans after their convincing 20-7 victory in Jacksonville on Sunday, Houston has had a tendency to suffer letdowns after divisional battles. The Texans are 2-10 against the spread when coming off a game against a fellow AFC South opponent since the start of the 2016 season, a mark that includes an 0-6 ATS mark when coming off a divisional win. The Texans are 5-12 straight up (6-10-1 against the spread) under head coach Bill O'Brien when coming off a double-digit win, which includes going 0-4 against the spread after a double-digit upset win as an underdog.

Pick: Dolphins +7.5

Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)

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