NFL Week 14 Tips: Texans on for a perfect ten
The Los Angeles Rams have secured their place in the playoffs, but who else can take a step closer to joining them? Matthew Crist looks ahead to Week 14...
"A win for Houston would be another huge step towards the AFC South Championship but don't expect the Colts to give in easily with their season all but on the line."
Houston can extend record run
When these two met back in Week 4 it turned out to be something of a pivotal moment in the Texans' season, sparking a run of nine straight wins and a franchise record for consecutive victories.
They were tied at 34 in overtime with just 24 seconds left to play when Frank Reich decided to go for it on fourth down at the Indy 43 yard line, meaning the Texans would almost immediately be in field goal range should they not convert.
As history tells us, the Colts failed on fourth down and the Texans - who were 0-3 at the time - scored a game-winning field goal two plays later to secure a 37-34 win which kickstarted Houston's entire campaign.
Some two months later and the Colts are now three games back with four to play and if they lose on Sunday that might just be that for the AFC South, though you'd be daft to write off the Colts.
Yes they were beaten when the two last met but winning this game puts them back on track to grab that second wild card spot, and even gives them an outside shot at the division. But losing this game could eliminate them from both.
Indy will hope that their free-scoring offence, with the exception of a shutout loss in Baltimore last week, will see them through again as Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton look to link up once more but with so much on the line it's highly unlikely they will be too gung-ho.
A win for Houston would be another huge step towards the AFC South Championship but don't expect the Colts to give in easily with their season all but on the line, so anything other than a one score game looks unlikely, probably in favour of the home team.
Steelers need to get back on track
Until a couple of weeks ago things were looking pretty good for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were many people's picks to make the Super Bowl if not win it, but on the back of two defeats in a row a number of questions are now being asked.
They haven't become a bad team overnight, but if they are to maintain hopes of a fruitful season then they will need to turn their fortunes around and pretty quickly, so it's probably just as well that they have the Raiders on Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger rolls into California as the league's leading passer with 3,945 yards while Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster have been dominating opponents throughout the season so shouldn't face too much trouble against an Oakland outfit who come into the game at 2-8 and a defence that ranks 14th overall.
The Raiders also have the 31st-ranked rushing defence and all eyes will be on second-year running back James Conner who, although unable to break 100 yards in his last three games, did score twice against the Chargers and should be licking his lips against a team who have relatively little to play for with a 14+ winning margin looking likely.
Acca of the Week
It's a four-fold this week, with the choices being: Pittsburgh (-11.5), New England (-8), Green Bay (-6) and Denver (-5.5) and is currently available at 15.57 on the Sportsbook.
The Steelers are like a wounded animal after two consecutive defeats and will look to take out their anger on Oakland while Tom Brady and the Patriots will surely have too much for a Wild Card chasing Dolphins.
Denver are unrecognisable from their early season form and will want to keep their season alive with a win over San Francisco and their season might be all but over but Green Bay look the only option in their matchup with Atlanta.
Cleveland are much improved from last season yet have only won four games, but to be honest it should have been more. They've resisted teams that would have dominated them last season and almost beat the high-flying Saints but for a horror show from kicker Zane Gonzales.
So if interim Head Coach Greg Williams can come up with a game plan to contain Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey there's a good chance the Browns can win this and are worth a shot at 11/10 on the Moneyline.
Long shot of the week
This Team to Score First five-fold is priced at 25.98 at the time of writing and features five teams who are fighting for their playoff lives in Week 14: Miami, Indianpolis, Denver, Pittsburgh and Philadlephia.
If shootouts are your thing then why not back both teams to score 4 touchdowns or more in each half in the New England v Miami game at 275/1.
A syndicate has been set up for those who want to win more and you can join here to play for £100,000 as seven games are picked with a variety of score margins to choose from.
My picks this week are as follows:
I've picked every game bar the Thursday game according to their handicap on the Sportsbook at the time of writing (home team in caps):
BUFFALO (-3.5) over NY Jets
CLEVELAND (+2) over over Carolina
Green Bay (-6) over ATLANTA
KANSAS CITY (-6.5) over Baltimore
New England (-7.5) over MIAMI
New Orleans (-8) over TAMPA BAY
HOUSTON (-4.5) over Indianapolis
LA RAMS (-14) over Cincinnati
DENVER (-5.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
DALLAS (-3.5) over Philadelphia
Pittsburgh (-3.5) over Oakland
Detroit (-2.5) over Arizona
LA Rams (-3) over CHICAGO
SEATTLE (9-3) over Minnesota
Back the Houston Texans to win by 1-13 points against the Colts at 7/5 on the Sportsbook
Back the Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 14+ points against the Oakland Raiders at 11/10 on the Sportsbook
Back the Cleveland Browns to beat the Carolina Panthers at 11/10 on the Sportsbook
Back Pittsburgh (-11.5), New England (-8), Green Bay (-6) and Denver (-5.5) currently available at 15.57 on the Sportsbook.
Back each team to score 4TDs in each half in the New England v Miami game at 275/1 on Sportsbook