Houston Texans vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, January 02, 2022 – 04:05 PM EST at Levi’s Stadium
Life comes at you pretty fast – like last week, when the Chicago Bears suddenly decided to start Nick Foles for their game against the Seattle Seahawks. We had the Seahawks (-6.5 at home) here at the ranch, of course, but as soon as the Foles announcement was made, everyone here knew they were eating a doom sandwich. Final score: Chicago 25, Seattle 24. Is it too late to air grievances? Maybe this week we’ll get to take advantage of a quarterback change.
The San Francisco 49ers may or may not be without Jimmy Garoppolo this Sunday when they host the Houston Texans; they moved from 15.5-point favorites to -12 on the NFL odds board at Heritage Sports after it was announced that Garoppolo suffered a Grade 3 sprained/broken thumb during last week’s 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans (+3 at home). I suspect there’s still some betting value to be had on Houston because everyone hates a competent game manager.
Not only is Garoppolo better than people want to give credit for, but he would also make a decent Pro Bowl fill-in this year. Football Outsiders have him ranked No. 10 overall on their quarterback charts for passing DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement), ahead of two players who did get their invites: Arizona’s Kyler Murray (No. 11) and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson (No. 22).
Before you say “dual-threat quarterback,” Jackson and especially Murray have been worse than league-average on their feet this year, according to rushing DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) – with Murray ranked near the bottom of the list. Also down there in the muck: Trey Lance, who will presumably get the start Sunday if Garoppolo isn’t good to go. It could be a small sample size in Lance’s case, but he wasn’t the panacea the Niners (8-7 SU, 7-8 ATS) were looking for when he filled in for the injured Garoppolo in Week 5. Arizona won that game 17-10 as 6-point road dogs.
Naturally, we’d be more comfortable recommending the Texans (4-11 SU, 7-8 ATS) for your NFL picks if Tyrod Taylor, himself an underappreciated commodity, were healthy and active. But it’ll be Davis Mills getting the start instead, and he’s No. 26 overall in passing DVOA. Houston has gone 2-7 SU and 4-5 ATS behind their third-string rookie.
The good news: They won their last two games, over the Jacksonville Jaguars (-6 at home) and the Los Angeles Chargers (-13.5 on the road). And the projections we’re looking at have the Niners winning by somewhere around 10 points. We’re not sure if Garoppolo will end up playing with a bad hand and ruin things the way Russell Wilson did in Seattle, but if Lance does indeed start, give Houston a spin, and may the prolate spheroid be with you in 2022.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.