Sunday’s matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans has an extra element of excitement for a game where neither team can make the playoffs. And, this late in the year, we’ll take that little bit of excitement over a boring football game. That extra element is Jimmy Garoppolo starting his second consecutive game for the 49ers. Jimmy G. showed some flash in last weekend’s win in Chicago and hopes to capitalize this week on the porous Texans defense. Houston would like to rebound from a disappointing divisional loss and take out their frustrations on a bad 49ers team. Kickoff inside NRG stadium is at 1 PM ET.
Since the Texans came into the league, they have played the 49ers a total of three times. San Francisco holds a 2-1 record against Houston and they beat the Texans in their last encounter during the 2013 season by a score of 34-3.
The 49ers (2-9) are 1-5 on the road and just got their first road victory of the season last weekend against the Bears. Jimmy G. brought some excitement to the 49ers fanbase and the diehards hope that he can continue trending upward. This week, he will face a ferocious pass rush and a decent secondary. Will he have enough time to operate from the pocket this weekend?
The Texans (4-8) hung in with the Titans last weekend for the first half. Unfortunately, they faltered late in the game and lost 24-13. With that defeat, Houston fell 4 games back in the division and 3 games back in the Wild Card. They’re season is basically over, but we all knew that was the case when Tom Savage had to replace the injured Watson. This week, Houston hopes to play some consistent football for 4 quarters and inch closer to a .500 record on the season.
The spread opened with Houston favored by 1.5 points. It has fluctuated between 1.5 and 3 points. Several books have it listed as Houston favored by 2.5 points. Since we’re taking the Texans in this one, try to get the spread below 3 points. The Over/Under opened at 43 total points and it remains unchanged.
The 49ers come into this contest winning 2 out of their last 3 games and playing inspired football. A big part of that is now due to Jimmy G. starting at QB. The team needs to see if Jimmy G. can be the franchise quarterback for their future. Last weekend, he finished with 293 yards and 1 INT. Jimmy flung the football around the field and the 49ers looked like a new team. The Garoppolo watch will continue for the rest of this season and it gives the 49ers faithful something to root for.
The Texans come into this matchup losing 4 out of their last 5 games and appear headed toward a losing season. At 4-8, Houston has nothing left to play for other than individual glory and job security for 2018. The issues for Houston starts at the QB position as Tom Savage is nothing more than a backup QB and his inability to push the ball down the field without turning it over has only caused problems for Houston. Additionally, their running game hasn’t been that great over the last few weeks.
Defensively, Houston still plays solid football. But, their problem is that they are on the field too long and put in difficult positions due to a bad offense. This week, I expect the Houston defense to get some pressure on Garoppolo and possibly force a turnover. They will disrupt his timing and harass him all game long. This will be a good test for Jimmy and the 49ers to see how he handles the pressure.
The 49ers defense came on strong last week against the Bears and I can see them playing strong in this game. With Tom Savage as QB, I don’t see the Texans breaking 240 yards passing this game, which is about what the 49ers allow per game. I also see the 49ers defense forcing at least one turnover as they’re averaging at least 1 per game during their last 4 contests.
Despite the success of the 49ers on defense, I believe that Houston will get the win this week. I think they have more talent on both sides of the ball than the 49ers do. Jimmy G. will show signs of brilliance and mistakes in this game due to Houston’s pass rush. Look for Savage to connect with Hopkins a lot in this game. And, if Will Fuller can come back, that will open up the field even more. I also see Miller getting close to 100 yards this week on the ground against a Niners defense that allows 123 rushing ypg.
San Francisco is 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games, 8-15-1 ATS in their last 24 road games, and 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games against the AFC. Houston is 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games as a favorite and 5-2 ATS following 2 or more consecutive losses.
Bringing it full circle, I believe that Houston will win this game by a late field goal to break the tie. That’s why it’s important to get the spread below 3. The 49ers will play tough for 4 quarters, but they will come up short on the road. Houston wins this game 20-17.