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NFL Week 9: Cleveland Browns (3-4) at Houston Texans (5-3)

The Cleveland Browns ’ chances of upsetting the Houston Texans got a lot better on Friday when Houston ruled out star WR Andre Johnson from returning from a hamstring injury.

Johnson, who will miss his fifth straight game, was injured in the Texans’ 17-10 win over Pittsburgh in Week 4. The Texans are 2-2 without Johnson this season. Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Johnson tried to make a push to get back on the field Monday, but had soreness on Tuesday that raised concern. Johnson sat out practice all week, though he stretched and ran on a separate field Friday. Texans safety Danieal Manning also will miss Sunday’s game with a broken leg. Fullback James Casey (chest) isn’t 100 percent but he will be able to play, according to Kubiak.

The Texans are excellent at starting fast on offense. The Cleveland Browns can’t let that happen on the road, as their offense isn’t equipped to play from a substantial deficit. The Browns’ three wins this year have come against some of the worst teams in the NFL. Houston has been very good in turnover margin, but Cleveland is great at protecting the football on offense.

A 3-4 defense installed by new coordinator Wade Phillips has been at the forefront of a dramatic turnaround for a Texans team that allowed 376.9 yards per game in 2010 — 30th in the NFL — when it finished 6-10. At the midway point of 2011, Houston has the league’s third-ranked defense at (286.8 ypg), is fifth in scoring defense (18.1 points) and against the pass (189.4 ypg) and tied for ninth with 20 sacks — 10 fewer than last season’s total.

Houston has held opponents under 200 yards in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history. It could easily become three in a row as it faces a Browns unit that may get limited contributions from RB Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and WR Mohamed Massaquoi (concussion). And if Hillis can’t go, Houston knows his understudy, Chris Ogbonnaya, very well; Ogbonnaya was on the Texans practice squad earlier this season.

The Browns’ pass defense no doubt is happy to see Johnson sit. But it has quietly become one of the NFL’s better defenses, especially against the pass (171.9 ypg, 2nd-best in the league). Cleveland has not yet allowed more than 369 yards, a benchmark Houston has surpassed four times.

WAGERWEB.COM ONLINE BETTING ODDS — Texans -10.5 (41)

NFL FOOTBALL BETS  RECORD VS. SPREAD — Cleveland 2-3-2; Houston 4-3-1

SERIES RECORD — Tied 3-3

LAST MEETING — Texans beat Browns 16-6, Nov. 23, 2008

LAST WEEK — Browns lost to 49ers 20-10; Texans beat Jaguars 24-14

BROWNS OFFENSE — OVERALL (26), RUSH (29), PASS (20)

BROWNS DEFENSE — OVERALL (5), RUSH (26), PASS (2)

TEXANS OFFENSE — OVERALL (7), RUSH (4), PASS (11)

TEXANS DEFENSE — OVERALL (3), RUSH (6), PASS (5)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES —Browns making first trip to Houston since 2006. … Cleveland outscored 44-3 in first quarter and 29-6 in third quarter this seasons. … Browns have completed league-low 11 receptions covering 20 yards or more. … QB Colt McCoy making first NFL start in Texas since playing for Longhorns from 2005-09. … RB Chris Ogbonnaya waived by Texans on Oct. 12, and signed by Cleveland week later. … LB D’Qwell Jackson averaging 9.3 tackles per game, tied for second-most in league. Jackson leads team with 65 tackles, and has led team in six of seven games this year. … WR Greg Little leads team with 29 receptions. … WR Joshua Cribbs needs 245 yards on kick returns to become seventh NFL player to reach 10,000. … WR Andre Johnson questionable with right hamstring injury. … Houston outscoring opponents 124-42 in first half. … Texans have scored on first possession five times. … Houston defense has an interception in last seven games. … LB Brian Cushing leads team with 54 tackles. … DE Antonio Smith has 4½ sacks and 16½ quarterback hits. … RB Arian Foster has rushed for more than 100 yards in last two games. Foster tied with Domanick Williams for club career mark for rushing touchdowns (23). … QB Matt Schaub has TD pass in 16 consecutive games. … TE Owen Daniels leads Texans with 31 receptions for 415 yards. by Wagerweb

Sportsbook Advisor Take: Cleveland has a better record than expected. They are getting better. We think that Hosuton is in a postion to dominate this game though. Cleveland is dealing with off field drama with Peyton Hillis’ contract and is a team that is building. Houston has the pieces in place, now they just need to play. We like Houston (-)

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Sunday, November 6th, 2011 NFL Betting 2011

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