When Tom Brady’s four-game suspension was announced to the Patriots, there was a high level of uncertainty as to how Bill Belichick’s team would respond during the first quarter of the NFL season. Well, two weeks in and Jimmy Garoppolo looks pretty good as the Pats have bolted out to a 2-0 record. Meanwhile, Rob Gronkowski has also been absent for New England’s first two contests with an injury. Gronk is questionable for the Thursday night game against the Texans, but it is believed he will suit up for this. The biggest issue however will likely be the pending status of young quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The QB was hurt during Week 2 and with the Pats playing in the early game this week, he is listed as highly doubtful to be under centre against Houston with a shoulder injury. It’s believed that rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett will start Thursday evening.
For Houston it has also been a great start for their team as they enter Thursday’s game a 2-0 squad. A couple of relatively easy home wins over the Bears and Chiefs have Houston thinking about the AFC South divisional crown, and you have to think they see an opportunity to go to 3-0 against a depleted New England team. It’s always exciting when you’ve got the Patriots, Belichick, and J.J. Watt in an NFL standalone contest, and the fact that Brissett could start certainly adds some intrigue. In a battle of undefeated teams, only one will be left standing on Thursday night. Read on below for a full game prediction and preview for Thursday Night Football.
Texans vs. Patriots Betting Odds:
Houston Texans -1.5 (-110)
@ New England Patriots +1.5 (-110)
Over 40.5 (-115)
Under 40.5 (-105)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Texans vs. Patriots Pick:
Despite being without Brady, the Pats have still thrived with Garoppolo. Now, with New England onto their third-string quarterback Thursday night, the question is whether or not rookie QB Jacoby Brissett will be able to fit right into Bill Belichick’s system. My prediction for Thursday evening is that Brissett will definitely be fine. Let’s not forget that Belichick got Matt Cassel to lead the Pats to an 11-5 record a few years back. Brissett in fact, is likely of a higher calibre than Cassel. This is a skilled, third-rounder, and he showed some solid traits in pre-season action. One of which being is great mobility to scramble around and extend plays. Going against a tough Houston front seven, the ability to move should prove quite useful. Look for Brissett to turn in a solid game and keep the Pats in this Thursday nighter.
On the defensive side for New England, one big boost to the Pats is the fact that linebacker Dont’a Hightower is expected to be in the lineup against Houston. With their first two options at QB out, and a banged up offense overall, look for the Pats to pick up their scoring unit with solid defensive play. Look for Hightower to be a big boost in limiting Lamar Miller’s effectiveness and forcing Brock Osweiler to throw in unfavourable situations. New England has been good at getting pressure on opposing QB’s, and Belichick does have a history of getting to Osweiler before – going back to his Denver days. Houston has a particular weakness along the left side of the O-Line and look for New England to be able to exploit this on Thursday night.
As iffy as backing the Pats may be with a third-string rookie quarterback, with New England and Bill Belichick, it’s all about adhering to the system. With Gronkowski back, the offense will be fine with an athletic Brissett at the helm, and their defense will be all over Osweiler. There is something weird about seeing New England as home underdogs, and Houston has yet to face a calibre of team like the Pats. Beating the Bears and Chiefs shouldn’t warrant being favoured in Foxborough, and you can bet New England will be motivated to prove the doubters wrong. Put your faith in the Belichick-system to put you in awe once again, and look for New England to win with yet another unknown quarterback on Thursday night.
PICK = Patriots +1.5 (-110)