HOUSTON TEXANS (2-2)
at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-2)
Kickoff: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: San Francisco -5.5, Total: 41
Both the Texans and the 49ers will be looking to go over .500 when the teams square off in San Francisco on Sunday night.
San Francisco is coming off of a 35-11 blowout victory over the Rams last Thursday night, while Houston blew a 17-point halftime lead at home to the Seahawks and lost 23-20 in overtime. So far this season the 49ers are 2-2 ATS while the Texans have failed to cover once, going 0-4 ATS early in the year. The last time these two teams met was in 2009 in what was a push ATS, but a 24-21 SU home victory for Houston. Despite the Texans' two-game losing skid, they are 35-16 ATS (69%) after two or more consecutive losses since 1992. They are also 21-9 ATS (70%) when playing on a grass field in the past three seasons, but also a dismal 20-37 ATS (35%) in road games after playing at home since 1992. The 49ers are 13-5 ATS (72%) in the first half of the season under head coach Jim Harbaugh, but are a woeful 0-9 ATS against teams who force 0.75 or less turnovers per game since 1992. Both teams could be without their star linebackers for this contest. Houston LB Brian Cushing is questionable for the game after suffering a concussion against the Seahawks, while San Francisco LB Patrick Willis is also a question mark as he continues to have issues with his groin.
Can the Texans end their losing streak in a tough environment on Sunday night? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are coming off a monster Week 4 in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 67% ATS record (10-5-2), highlighted by StatFox Gary's perfect 4-0-1 ATS mark. StatFox Scott was a perfect 5-0 in NFL Totals, increasing his season record to 69% (11-5). Gary went 3-1 in NFL Totals, which actually lowered his yearly percentage to 77% (10-3).
The Texans appeared to have an impressive win secured against the Seahawks with a seven-point lead and the ball with three minutes remaining, but QB Matt Schaub threw an ill-advised pick-six to CB Richard Sherman that sent the game to overtime where the Texans eventually lost. It was Schaubís third straight game throwing a pick-six, which ruined an otherwise solid afternoon in which he threw for 355 yards (7.2 YPA), 2 TD and 2 INT, but his first interception was the result of a dropped pass. Despite being covered by Sherman, one of the best corners in the NFL, WR Andre Johnson was still able to catch nine passes for 110 yards. The Texans TE combination of Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham combined for 11 catches, 141 yards and a touchdown. While these three players have helped Houston rack up 276 passing YPG (9th in NFL), the team has been even better running the football with 134 YPG (7th in league) on 4.7 YPC (6th in NFL). RB Arian Foster rushed for 102 yards on 27 carries (3.8 YPC) with a touchdown versus Seattle, while also catching six passes for 69 yards. His workload was greater than usual because No. 2 RB Ben Tate was benched after a costly lost fumble. But Tate has been outstanding all season, leading the NFL with 6.7 yards per carry. The offense must help out their defense by cutting down on their costly turnovers, giving away six drives over the past three weeks. Despite the short fields as a result of the offensive miscues, Houston still leads the NFL in total defense (254 YPG allowed), passing defense (141 YPG allowed), sacks per attempt (12.3%), while ranking second in first downs allowed (14.8 per game).
San Franciscoís offense seemed lost in Weeks 2 and 3 with a combined 10 points and seven turnovers, but they finally got themselves going again on Thursday night against the Rams. QB Colin Kaepernick managed the game extremely well as he went 15-of-23 for 167 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Kaepernickís main target was WR Anquan Boldin, who caught five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. TE Vernon Davisí presence on the field despite a hamstring injury made the offense that much more explosive, and the tight end caught a touchdown pass in the game. No other 49ers player has reached 100 receiving yards this year, so the team could really benefit from a third option for Kaepernick to throw to. The real story of Week 4 was the 49ers running game. RB Frank Gore was unstoppable all night as he rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (7.7 YPC). Backup Kendall Hunter also rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries (4.5 YPC). For the season, the Niners have 131 rushing YPG (8th in NFL) on 4.5 YPC (10th in league). San Francisco's defense also made great strides last week in holding the Rams to 188 total yards, including 18 rushing yards on 19 carries. For the season, the Niners have allowed only 191 passing YPG (3rd in NFL), 31% third-down conversions (3rd in league) and 4.6 yards per play (4th in NFL), but need to buckle down in the red-zone, as the unit's 73.3% red-zone efficiency is the sixth-worst in the NFL. LB/DE Aldon Smith (19.5 sacks last year, 4.5 sacks in three games this year) remains out indefinitely after taking a leave of absence to deal with substance abuse problems, and CB Nnamdi Asomugha could also miss Sunday's game with an injured ankle.