Monday Night Football, and it could be the game of the year in the NFL. The Houston Texans will travel to Foxboro to take on the red-hot New England Patriots in what promises to be a pivotal clash for AFC playoff positioning.
New England enters this contest riding a stellar six-game win streak, and this team looks like the frontrunners for the Super Bowl in February. That said, questions remain about their injuries and their strength of schedule. The Pats haven’t really played anyone of Houston’s calibre since Baltimore earlier in the year, so this match-up is a big statement game for Bill Belechick’s side. With the Texans sitting at 11-1, and the Pats 9-3, it’s a must-win game for New England if they want that crucial number one seed and homefield advantage in the post-season. Look for an immense performance from Brady and company. However, New England isn’t without injury concerns entering this game. Rob Gronkowski remains out injured, as could Logan Mankins if his status doesn’t improve. Chandler Jones looks primed to return on defense, and despite Aaron Hernandez’s questionable listing, he too should suit up Monday night.
The Texans enter with an 11-1 record and are clearly one of the premier teams in the NFL. This is a massive game not only for this season, but their brief franchise history. Can Houston finally take that next step and win a pivotal clash on the road? We’ll find out Monday, but if they are they cannot afford any letdowns as they’ve been accustomed to in recent weeks. Near slip-ups against Detroit and Jacksonville make pundits question their legitimacy, but Monday evening should reveal a lot about this squad heading into the post-season. Houston seems to be a much better home than road team, so a win here would be critical for playoff success. It won’t be easy in this atmosphere however, especially with their injury troubles. Their secondary has been hit hard of late with injuries, and the loss of cornerback Johnathan Joseph looms large entering this contest. Joseph is a game-time decision along with offensive linemen Derek Newton and Antoine Caldwell. Brooks Reed is out for a second straight game, yet another big loss on the Houston defense.
Texans vs. Patriots Betting Odds:
Houston Texans +4 (-110)
@ New England Patriots -4 (-110)
Over 51 (-110)
Under 51 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Texans vs. Patriots Pick:
Though many experts are dubbing this game as a match-up of the top two NFL sides at the moment, I’m not so sure that is the case. Despite Houston’s stellar looking 11-1 record on the season, this has been an inconsistent team that could’ve accumulated a fair amount of losses to lesser teams along the way. They’ve feasted on a bad schedule, and while they’ve found ways to win all those games, going into Foxboro and taking down Tom Brady, Bill Belechick, and the red-hot New England Patriots would be a huge task. The Pats get up for games like this, and should be raring to go in order to prove to the league who the real class of the AFC is.
This New England attack puts up 35 points per game, and despite going against a premier defense like the Texans, their injuries leave certain portions vulnerable. If Brady can get protected, expect him to pick apart the Houston secondary. Even without Gronkowski, Brady still has a plethora of weapons that can hurt any team in the league. Houston will be no different. When New England has the ability to spread the field and get rid of the ball quickly before the pas-rush, they create fits for their opponents. J.J. Watt is undoubtedly a dominant player and will be watching Brady all night, but if Terrific Tom can get some time and space, it’ll be a long evening for the Houston defensive backs.
The Patriots defense has struggled at times this season, but the acquisition of Aqib Talib has helped matters. Expect Talib to be all over Andre Johnson Monday night, and if he can limit his effectiveness, it could leave Schaub with few options. Getting Chandler Jones back on defense will be huge as well for New England. Houston has had protection issues in recent weeks, and having their top pass-rusher back in the mix could limit the effectiveness of the Houston attack.
The individual match-ups and schemes may look to favour the Texans, but playing your third-straight road game is not a desirable task in the NFL. In a marquee match-up, it’s asking for trouble to go against Tom Brady and the Patriots, so let’s side with them. This is a Texans side that’s squeaked out victories over brutal teams, and they will be overwhelmed by the firepower of New England under the Monday night lights. Look for Brady and company to win this one by double-digits in a high scoring affair.
PICK = Patriots -4 (-110)