Betting News & Analysis

NFL Week 12 Leveraging Tails: Keep backing the surging Houston Texans

2T8JDH3 Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

• QB C.J. Stroud 300+ passing yards & Houston Texans -4.5 (+800): If the Houston offense is as good as our thesis presents, I’d be happy to take the points and combine that with Stroud yards, with those two options deeply correlated and certainly more correlated than the market suggests.

• The Texans on the rise: Over the last six weeks of the season, the Jaguars have remained largely unchanged from the team they were in the early part of the season. Meanwhile, the Texans have taken a massive jump toward becoming a top-tier offense.

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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Many bettors place wagers in multiple markets — spreads, totals, teasers, props, etc. — where they generally get oriented by following a bottom-up approach: “Which spreads do I like?” or “Which totals stand out this week?”

However, the goal in this space is to follow a top-down approach. We will take a deep dive into one game a week and consider how bettors can best apply a specific theory on a team, player or trend and capitalize on it in the betting market.

Some bets will track more traditional markets, but we will more often look to maximize our upside in the multitude of different markets offered by sportsbooks.

Best Bet: QB C.J. Stroud 300+ passing yards & Houston Texans -4.5 (+800)

• These two teams have been similar in terms of their ability to move the ball on offense, with the Houston Texans holding a slight advantage in that regard. The two defenses look nearly identical.

• While full-season data is valuable in understanding base pricing, it lacks some critical context about where the teams are now. This brings up an interesting point regarding hunting for tails during different parts of the season.

• As the season goes on, teams evolve both stylistically and developmentally. The value, then, comes from identifying whether the changes in results are a function of variance and/or noise or a reflection of an evolving team whose fundamentals have changed.

• Over the last six weeks of the season, the Jaguars have remained largely unchanged from the team they were in the early part of the season. Meanwhile, the Texans have taken a massive jump toward becoming a top-tier offense.

• This should not be viewed as noise, as it has coincided with C.J. Stroud’s emergence. Rookie quarterbacks take time to develop, and there’s little reason to think Houston's recent surge is simply a statistical aberration — by nearly every metric, Stroud’s performance indicates that he is a serious MVP candidate.

• The full-season look shows that the pricing for this game — with Houston as a slight underdog — is reasonable. The more relevant sample of the last six weeks suggests Houston is the far better team.

Matchup Angle

• The Jaguars defense has struggled to generate pressure all season, recording the fifth-worst pressure rate in the NFL through Week 11.

• An inability to generate pressure is a recipe for trouble against C.J. Stroud and the Texans, who have carved up defenses when Stroud’s pocket is kept clean.

• With his offensive line healthy and Laremy Tunsil matched up with Josh Allen (the Jaguars' best and only above-average pass-rusher), Stroud should have plenty of time to continue carving up defenses.

The bottom line

• If the Texans are going to win, it is likely through Stroud continuing his recent excellent play.

• The Texans will throw the ball a lot, as they face a Jaguars defense that teams are opting to pass against at a top-five rate in the league.

• If the Houston offense is as good as our thesis presents, I’d be happy to take the points and combine that with Stroud yards, with those two options deeply correlated and certainly more correlated than the market suggests.

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