Thursday Night Football is back so get ready for the drek. It’s no secret that teams playing on a short week look like crap–viewership for TNF is down eleven-percent. Even with the Patriots on the slate last week no one really tuned. That is because we’re all hip to how bad the football is.
The Pats and Chiefs were at least able to entertain us–something neither the Texans or the Bengals looked capable of last week. Both were embarrassed for their home opener by a divisional opponent.
The Texans’ ineptitude can be traced back to head coach Bill O’Brien’s indecision at quarterback. He committed to Tom Savage over the summer yet at the first sign of trouble he panicked and (rightfully) inserted Deshaun Watson. It was the correct move but Watson should have been in from the start.
Unlike in Kansas City where Alex Smith is genuinely good, Savage is just as unknown a commodity as Watson. Last season he proved he could be a game manager but not much else. How does that elevate him over a guy you traded up to draft? That small of a mistake set a ripple effect. Savage has two left feet compared to the swift footed Watson. All the pressure the offensive line faced (allowed ten sacks) could have been helped by Watson scrambles. Instead Savage was a moving target for the Jaguars defensive line leading to a 19 point deficit that the team never recovered from.
Offensive line play was also the source of the Bengals’ Week 1 misfortune. Andy Dalton turned the ball over five times in the 20-0 mugging. It is easy to beat up on Dalton but he is not at fault. He barely had enough time to take the snap let alone read the defense. The run game was useless as the Ravens defensive line Debo’d the Bengals offensive line all day.
The first thing you want to do when looking at this game is look at the points. Can you trust either team to cover any spread? You have two suspect offensive lines that couldn’t block a traffic cone last week. Two head coaches who play Connect Four in a game where the elite are playing Chess. And to cap it off they’re playing on a short week.
Winning on the road on a short week is tough. Covering a six point spread when you failed to score a single point in your home opener? That doesn’t sound right to me. Assuming Watson remains the starter at the very least he adds a dimension to the run game. Read option with Lamar Miller is now possible which can set up play action passes similar to the one DeAndre Hopkins scored the lone Texan touchdown last week.
Take the points here. These teams are quietly pretty even at each position. Both defenses are solid. The offenses, despite being gift-wrapped star receivers, are suspect to say the least. Stay away if you can, but if you can’t resist roll with Houston.