Though it promises to be a thrilling weekend of divisional playoff showdowns in the NFL, the Saturday evening match-up in New England might be the one without drama associated. The Houston Texans are nowhere near the level of the Patriots right now, and that’s clearly indicated in one of the most lopsided spreads in NFL post-season history. Kudos to the Texans for taking care of business last week and defeating a depleted Raiders squad, but now Brock Osweiler and his mediocre offense will need to put in some heroics if they’re to squeak by the surging Pats. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick look ready to win yet another Super Bowl, and a team like Houston stands little chance of effectively standing in their way. Still, there is money to be made and that’s what we’re all about. Read on below for some game thoughts, analysis, and a total prediction for Pats/Texans.
Texans vs. Patriots Betting Odds:
Houston Texans +15 (-115)
@ New England Patriots -15 (-105)
Over 44.5 (-110)
Under 44.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Texans vs. Patriots Pick:
Everyone assumes New England is going to absolutely roll over the Texans in this game, and they’re probably right. The Texans need some sort of miracle to keep things close, and they likely won’t get it. New England is just too organized and dominant right now, and a team with the flaws of Houston won’t be anywhere close to containing that. But as it stands right now, the current spread of 15-ish seems a tad unpredictable. That’s a very large number for a playoff game, but at the same time, it’s difficult to count out the Pats from easily cruising to a three-touchdown victory. All that said, there are better opportunities to make money in this contest, particularly with the betting total sitting at 44.5 points.
Houston’s strength is their defense – it can be very solid and was last week against the Raiders and their talented receiving corps. The Texans have excellent edge rushers that do have the ability to make things tough on Brady. Despite a solid Patriots’ offensive line, both of Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus have the ability to hound Brady and provide some resistance. Downfield, without Gronkowski there still exists some uncertainty about Brady’s preferred threats and targets. A.J. Bouye is excellent in that Houston secondary and count on him to blanket and take away whomever Houston deems most threatening. While the Texans will likely struggle when Brady checks down and spreads out their stop unit, Houston has individual pieces that could make things difficult on the New England offense at times. The chains will be moving, but perhaps not as much as many would’ve thought.
I also think the Pats will rely very heavily on the run game. Houston has struggled in this area of late, and once New England gets up by a comfortable margin by the second quarter, expect them to give Brady a bit of a rest and just hand the ball off to Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount. This should keep the clock ticking and allow the Pats’ stars some rest for next week’s AFC Championship match-up.
For Houston’s offense, it is basically non-existent and won’t be effective at all going against New England’s defense. Belichick thrives at taking away one aspect of another team’s offense, and this week I am certain he’ll make DeAndre Hopkins seem invisible. Malcolm Butler will blanket the talented receiver, and after that there’s not much else Osweiler will be able to do. Running the football may not be much of an option either, as Alan Branch is a beast in the middle for New England. Holes will be tough to find for Lamar Miller on Saturday evening.
Ultimately I think this game stays well under the posted total. The Pats will put up their numbers in the first half and will be content to ride their comfortable lead to a mellow second half against a vastly overmatched opponent. Houston’s offense is just atrocious and I can’t see them scoring into the double-digits. With that being said, look for a 27-7 scoreline on Saturday night, as New England prepares for a stiffer test next weekend.
PICK = Under 44.5 (-110)