WHILE Tom Selwyn hits New York, Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) takes the MNF NFL reins as Houston hit Oakland.
Houston Texans @ Oakland Raiders | Tuesday 01:30 | Sky Sports 1
The last game of Week 11 in the NFL sees another in the International Series as big time football goes South of the border into Mexico City and the Stadium Azteca. Just 13 days after the election of that well known fan of all things Mexican and man of the people, The Donald. Oh the irony.
After my esteemed colleague Julian Betts (@BettsJulian) wrote half a column about an English playwright in a piece about Czech football, I briefly considered a rant about a nation of apparently educated people electing an obnoxious, racist, billionaire ‘man of the people’ as the leader of the free world and what effect that might have on world wheat prices and Nigel Farage. Instead, I am going to plough on making points about overpaid quarterbacks and red zone defence.
Offence v Defence
When you look at a matchup like this where the number 5 ranked offence faces off against the 4th best defence in the NFL, the temptation must always be to go with the defence. After all, the oldest saying in football is defence wins championships.
There are few better units right now than the Houston Texans and boy do they need it because they are really not very good on the other side of the ball. Brock Osweiller led the Denver Broncos most of the way to Super Bowl glory last year. As with this team, they progressed almost despite him.
Nobody is saying that Osweiller is a terrible quarterback (well maybe I am) but it says something about the scarcity of really top class players in that position, that Houston felt the need to pay him $70m. Houston ranks 30 of 32 offences scoring a paltry 17.9 points per game.
Oakland on the other have hand are having, for them, a stellar season as this franchise prepares for the potentially gazillion dollar move to Las Vegas.
The rise of Derek Carr
The man mostly responsible for their ever improving form is fast developing franchise quarterback Derek Carr. The young man has led this unit with maturity and they will be a huge threat to everyone in the AFC in the next couple of seasons.
Carr has plenty of downfield weapons to call on. In this game Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and the rest face an elite secondary that has been hugely responsible for most of Houstons wins in 2016. They have allowed just 198 yards per game through the air this year.
The Raiders problem in this game will be to have enough variation to cause Houston to mix it up on defence. If the rushing attack can do its thing, the Texans will be forced to vary coverages in a unit already shorn of the magnificent JJ Watt.
After much thought, I do see the Raiders having too much on offence without overpowering a very good Texans defensive line. The Raiders -6 is huge value and I am also taking them to win in a low scoring contest.