The stench of the Titans' loss has yet to wear off as the 49ers now need some help to get into the playoffs. The 49ers' chances of making the playoffs likely hinges on their Week 18 matchup with the Rams. But, first things first, as they face the Houston Texans next.
The Texans just dropped 41 points on the Chargers, where rookie quarterback Davis Mills outplayed Justin Herbert without his top target, Brandin Cooks. Mills had a success rate of 60%, with 53% of his passes going for first downs.
Everything for the Texans was working, as Rex Burkhead ran for 149 yards on 22 carries, with two touchdowns. In addition, Mills had a couple of impressive “bucket throws” down the sideline that was impossible to defend for the defense.
The Davis Mills that showed up Sunday hasn’t been the Mills that’s been under center all season. Since Week 9, the Texans are 30th in EPA per play and dead last in offensive success rate. Sunday was a mirage. Mills has been closer to average, with a 47.8 success rate — right in front of Taylor Heinicke and behind Ryan Tannehill.
The Texans allowed 417 yards of offense for 7.3 yards per play, looking at the box score. They also allowed Los Angeles to convert 6-of-9 third downs. The difference? Three turnovers.
The Titans have been a top-10 unit defensively during the second half of the season. However, they confuse the backend with their coverage principles. That’s something we discussed in last week’s episode of The Shanaplan. Houston is the opposite, running a bland defense that’s mainly Cover 2.
Defensively, the Texans are 29th in success rate since Week 9. They don’t allow the big play because of their Cover 2 shell defense — Houston has only allowed the eighth-fewest explosive passing plays since Week 9 but the fourth-most explosive running plays. As a result, San Francisco should have their way on the ground and be able to dink and dunk their way down the field while finding holes down the seams.
That’s why the 49ers find themselves as 15-point favorites over the Texans heading into Week 17 over at DraftKings SportsBook. The total on the game is 45, which suggests Vegas believes the Niners will win roughly 30-15.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.