How fitting that two teams that combined for seven points in Week 1 would be Thursday Night Football’s featured matchup. Sigh. Well, as I like to say, at least we can have action.
With Deshaun Watson making his first career start on the road with an ankle that is probably less than 100 percent and a depleted offense, an UNDER of 37 ½ (-108) has great appeal. Granted, under slightly different circumstances, these two teams combined for 22 points last December.
Andy Dalton -20 ½ (-110) more passing yards than Deshaun Watson
The Bengals quarterback was B-A-D against the Ravens. Losing his top two offensive linemen to free agency was evident, but isn’t an excuse to turn the ball over five times. However, Dalton isn’t that bad. When you stack up a veteran quarterback, playing at home, whose top target is one of the NFL’s top receivers, against a rookie making his first start on the road on a short week, I’ll buy shares of the Red Rifle to cover the 20.5 pass yards over Watson. Thinking 230-250 to 200-220.
DeAndre Hopkins O/U 5 ½ receptions (-135)
Watson will be without a rookie QB’s favorite safety valve: a reliable tight end. Three Texans tight ends are out for Week 2 with concussions and they had to sign somebody off the practice squad to fill the void. Hopkins was targeted six times on Watson’s first NFL drive last Sunday. He’ll get plenty of looks and should breeze over the 5 ½ receptions.
A.J. Green -5 ½ (+100) more receiving yards than DeAndre Hopkins
While Hopkins will probably wind up with more targets and receptions, the Dalton-to-Green connection will hit one long ball to create enough yardage separation between Green and Hopkins, who will accumulate the bulk of his yards on hitch and under routes as the Texans build Watson’s completion percentage confidence. Also remember, cornerback Adam Jones returns for Cincinnati and will line up across from Hopkins.
Joe Mixon O/U 47 ½ Rush+Rec Yards (-140)
Brian Cushing’s 10-game suspension downgrades the Texans defense and ability to stop the run as he was the franchise leader in tackles. Plus, J.J. Watt is playing with a jacked-up finger that he dislocated last Sunday, which could impact his tackling. Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette racked up 124 rush/rec yards on 27 touches against the Texans in Week 1. Although Mixon will earn fewer touches, neither Jeremy Hill nor Gio Bernard did enough in Week 1 where Mixon is buried on the depth chart. He’ll get plenty of work to eclipse 47 total yards.