Play action or Pass week 16: Motivate me

The Texans are playing for Bill O'Brien's job. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Motivation is a stat that fails to show up in the box score or in the spread, but unquestionably you see it with the on-field performances in the closing weeks of the regular season.

Week 16 brings us various spots that we look to take advantage of using motivation as an angle we can capitalize on.

We currently sit at:


1. Patriots 11-3

2. Steelers 11-3

3. Jaguars 10-4

4. Chiefs 8-6

5. Titans 8-6

6. Bills 8-6

Trailing behind them and still in contention.

Ravens 8-6

Chargers 7-7

Raiders 6-8

Dolphins 6-8


1. Eagles 12-2

2. Vikings 11-3

3. Rams 10-4

4. Saints 10-4

5. Panthers 10-4

6. Falcons 9-5

Trailing behind them and still in contention

Lions 8-6

Seahawks 8-6

Cowboys 8-6

Playoff Seeding Motivation


Philadelphia has clinched the NFC East and a first-round bye. The Eagles will clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Raiders, or a tie combined with a Vikings loss/tie, or a Vikings loss. How much motivation will Oakland have after the tragedy of last Sunday night? After being on the wrong side of the most bizarre first down measurement "paper gate," Derek Carr fumbled Oakland's playoff chances out of the end zone for a touchback. Although they aren't mathematically eliminated, the Raiders would need to win out and have multiple scenarios to play out in order to punch a ticket into the postseason. Cross-country travel, on a short week vs. a non-conference opponent, where will the fight for the Raiders come from? Offensive tackle Donald Penn held a streak of 174 straight games played, but this Christmas, he will be at home. To lose your left tackle, Derek Carr's blindside, while traveling into a hostile environment, to play against a defense that underachieved the prior week isn't the ideal situation. Yes, these are professionals, but at the same time they are human, and with the dream being basically crushed by Carr's fumble, how can we expect the Raiders to get up for this game. How can Oakland salvage some kind of motivation going into the off-season? A trip to L.A in week 17 vs. the Chargers with the chance to play spoiler could be the remedy. Look for the Raiders to sleepwalk through this game with the season finale serving as some type of redemption game.

Job security motivation

Texans +10

"We have a great relationship; Coach OB is fun to play for. He's very tough on you. He wants you to be successful. I would love to have coach OB back, and I'm ready to have him with me for my whole career." These were the words of new found leader Deshaun Watson, amidst of all the talk of Bill O'Brien's future with the team. When Watson, the future of the team, comments about who he would like to play for and shows that he is in Bill O'Brien's corner, it has to bring a sense of motivation from a coaching standpoint as well as a perception of optimism in the locker-room. When asked about his quarterbacks support, the QB whisperer O'Brien said “I appreciate all the support that anybody — I think that’s just the way I think any of us are. People support you, it’s a nice thing. But we’ve got to focus on Pittsburgh, and that’s what we’re trying to do.” The Steelers are coming off a wild finish in a matchup they had circled all year. By now, we all know about the Jesse James catch being overturned, and the catastrophic mistake Ben Roethlisberger made, so where is the mental state of the Steelers locker room? They are still playing for a first-round bye week, and they lead Jacksonville by a game, but the Jaguars face off a day earlier vs. the 49ers. Will the outcome of that game factor into this final score? Tomlin has been very inconsistent as a double-digit road favorite losing outright on five occasions in his tenure. In road games the Steelers have been favored in this year they are 2-4 ATS. Take Houston to keep it close enough to leave the back door open.

Winning Mentality Motivation

49ers +4

Since handing the keys to Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers have played like an inspired team. San Francisco is 3-0 straight up and 2-0-1 ATS with Garoppolo at quarterback. San Fransisco averages 5.9 yards per play on offense with Garoppolo, surpassing the league average of 5.4. The stat that jumps out is the improvement on defense. When you think of the Jaguars, you automatically think defense. The Jags hold opponents to 4.9 yards per play. During the last three weeks, the 49ers have held opponents to the exact same number. Since changing quarterbacks, the 49ers have improved on both sides of the ball giving merit to our theory of motivation in the locker room. This team is playing like a 3-0 squad, not one that resembles the 4-10 record they hold in 2017.


Seahawks +3

Seahawks/Cowboys over 47


Rams/Titans under 49

Teaser 7- point


10-point teaser

Chiefs PK/ Eagles+1/Patriots -1.5

Eagles+1/Seahawks-Cowboys over 37/Chiefs PK

Play action or Pass went 8-1 in week 15 bringing our yearly record to 41-28-1. 59.4%

Most Bet teams

Browns 74%

Panthers 73%

Chiefs 70%

Giants 70%

Eagles 67%

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz

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Dameon Pierce bought Nick Caserio some time. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

As the Astros get ready to make a run at back-to-back World Series championships and the Houston Cougars strive to play their way to a Final Four in Houston, the Houston Texans near term ambitions are much lower. The Texans merely hope to end their status as a three years running dumpster fire of nearly relentless ineptitude. As a follow-up to the energy jolt of the hire of DeMeco Ryans as head coach, the first days of the new NFL year resulted in a word rarely useable since Nick Caserio became general manager: progress!

Specifically, acquiring solid guard Shaq Mason from the cap-strapped Buccaneers for basically nothing was excellent, the addition of defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins should be a legitimate upgrade for the Texans’ d-line that was regularly trampled last season, and a deal with defensive back Jimmie Ward should add veteran savvy to the secondary provided he isn’t poised to tumble over the hill at 32 years old. Ed Reed anyone? Reed was 35. Big difference. Or better be.

The Texans organizationally weren’t really trying to win the last two years but, Caserio didn’t do much to impress in pouring some foundation for the next era of winning Texans football. Year one he was hamstrung by not having a first or second round pick, but his first selection (third round pick) was the failed flyer on quarterback Davis Mills. That leaves wide receiver Nico Collins as the biggest hope of the Texans’ Class of ’21. Collins shows promise of number two wideout upside, but has had health issues each of his first two seasons. It is fine to judge a rookie class on its rookie production, it is foolish to pass final judgment on that class for at least another year or two.

Caserio’s most important 2022 draftees collectively underwhelmed. Third overall pick Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. played okay, before having injury problems as he did in his final two seasons at LSU. The Jets grabbed corner Sauce Gardner with the selection immediately after the Texans took Stingley. Gardner played every game and was spectacular in becoming the first rookie CB named first team All-Pro since Ronnie Lott 41 years earlier. Caserio’s second first round pick, guard Kenyon Green out of A&M, struggled frequently. A whole bunch of rookies taken after Green were better in their first seasons, including guard Zion Johnson who went to the Chargers two spots after Caserio picked Green. Again, no final verdicts, but anyone wanting to gush over Caserio tabbing running Dameon Pierce in the fourth round needs to acknowledge his top two picks weren’t all that.

Fortunately, one of the many rookies better than Green was Texans’ first second round pick Jalen Pitre. On both the human level and football level hopefully their second second rounder last year, wide receiver John Metchie, shows well after having his rookie season delayed so he could conquer leukemia.

Big picture

Ultimately, nothing the Texans do with their roster amounts to much until they next have quality quarterback play. Hence, the defining move of Caserio’s tenure is the QB the Texans take number two overall in the upcoming draft. It’s basically 50-50 that the Texans will be full of crap when they say “we got our guy” at number two. Moronically winning the season finale against the Colts cost the Texans the first pick, which the Panthers now have via trade with the Bears. Whichever QB left for the Texans between C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young could turn out to be the better player. Maybe they’re both great, maybe they’re both busts. There is no disputing that the only way to definitely get your preferred dart at the board was by picking first instead of second, and the Texans blew that control.

The Texans are in the obviously weakest division in the AFC. Right now the Jaguars look to be the team of the present and future, but far from a juggernaut. The Titans are coming off a collapse and like the Colts are very unsettled at quarterback. Well, unless the Colts pull off a huge signing of Lamar Jackson. Last place to first place year-to-year division flips are not extreme rarities in the NFL. The Jaguars did it last year, the Bengals the year before. There is no reason to expect that from the Texans in 2023 but in their division it wouldn’t be a complete miracle if they nail the QB selection. If the Texans’ Caserio-Ryans one-two punch isn’t at minimum legitimately competing to win the division in 2024, then four seasons into his tenure, Caserio will be failing at roster building.

Astros baseball is right around the corner!

Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule it airs live at 3PM Monday on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, is available there for playback at any point, and also becomes available in podcast form at outlets galore. Such as:

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