- The Cleveland Browns are 2.5-point favorites against the Houston Texans.
- Cleveland earned a 36-22 road win this year in Houston, who played without C.J. Stroud.
- Why the market appears to be underrating the Texans offense.
Ahead of Saturday’s AFC wild-card matchup in Houston, I’m here to offer a Texans vs. Browns prediction.
Houston snatched the division title behind rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and rookie head coach DeMeco Ryans thanks to a win over the Colts and a Jaguars loss in Tennessee.
As for Cleveland, they rested starters in Week 18 after clinching the No. 5 seed as the AFC’s best wild-card team.
Here’s a look at NFL betting lines for Saturday’s game, along with my bets for the contest.
Texans vs. Browns Betting Odds
- Cleveland Browns Moneyline: -145
- Houston Texans Moneyline: +120
- Game Spread: Cleveland Browns -2.5
- Game Total: 44 Points
Texans vs. Browns Betting Predictions
Houston Texans Team Total Over 20.5 Points (-115)
I question if Houston can win against the Browns, but they should score points at home.
Without Stroud in Week 16 against the Browns, the Texans managed 22 points. They also accomplished that feat with top receiver Nico Collins snagging only four catches.
Replace Davis Mills with Stroud and bettors should expect a similar outcome for the Texans, especially when you factor in the Browns’ lackluster road defense.
This season, Cleveland led the league in home points allowed per game but simultaneously ranked last in road points per game.
Shrink the sample down to three indoor games, and bettors will find Cleveland surrendered 32 points per game while allowing all three teams to clear this number.
Conversely, the Texans offense is markedly better at home.
Houston averaged 24.6 points per game at NRG Stadium compared to 19.5 away from home.
In home games behind Stroud, they averaged 24.9 points per game and cleared this number in six of eight contests.
Plus, there’s one last element of betting calculus informing this play.
Since 2003-04, non-divisional games played indoors are 69% to the over, including 9-6 in the wild-card round.
If the over hits, that likely means both team totals hit.
Take the Texans to play well in front of their home fans accordingly.
Nico Collins Over 5.5 Receptions (+110)
This is largely a price play for me, as Collins has proved C.J. Stroud’s favorite target.
Although he finished with only four receptions against the Browns, Collins received passes from backup quarterback Case Keenum.
With Stroud, the duo should exploit a Browns pass defense that looks markedly different away from home.
This season, they surrendered the fewest passing yards per game at home compared to the eighth-most on the road.
Plus, in eight home games with Stroud as the starter, Collins cleared this number six times and averaged 6.4 receptions in those eight games.
He’s also coming off another reliable indoor performance. Albeit against a mediocre Colts pass defense, the Michigan product reeled in nine catches.
Add in a likely negative game script for the Texans, and I’ll back Collins to record at least six receptions so long as the price remains at +105 or better.
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