The New England Patriots host the Houston Texans on Saturday, January 14th in the AFC Divisional Round. This will be a rematch of the 27-0 victory by the Patriots back on September 22nd in which Jacoby Brissett led them to victory as a rookie.
New England (14-2) won seven straight games to close out the season to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They were playing for that top seed in Week 17 when they went into Miami and crushed the Dolphins 35-14.
Houston (10-7) got the sour taste out of its mouth from a 30-0 home loss to the Chiefs in the playoffs last year. The Texans took care of business in a 27-14 home win over the Raiders in the wild card round last week, forcing three Connor Cook interceptions in the process.
Kickoff inside Gillette Stadium is set for 8:15 EST Saturday night with CBS providing the television coverage. Taking a look at the NFL lines, I spot New England as a 15.5-point favorite over Houston with a total set of 44.5 points.
By no means do I think the Texans will win this game, but 15.5 points is a ton. I think they can stay within the number and take this game down to the wire. There are numerous reasons they should be able to be competitive, and it starts with their defense.
The Texans actually ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense this season. They give up just 295.5 yards per game on the season, including 220.8 yards per game in their last four. They have one of the most underrated secondary’s in the NFL, ranking 2nd against the pass at 201.6 yards per game. Their defensive back stick to receivers like glue, and they’re getting a solid pass rush led by Jadeveon Clowney. They certainly have what it takes to slow down Tom Brady and company.
A benching may be just what Brock Osweiler needed. He responded with one of his best games of the season against the Raiders. Osweiler finished 14 of 25 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown without an interception. By no means is he a top-tier quarterback now, but I think he can make enough plays to keep them in the game. And Lamar Miller is back healthy now, rushing for 73 yards and a score against the Raiders.
You’re going to hear this stat plenty leading up to this game. The Patriots have outscored the Texans 54-6 in their two meetings over the past two seasons. But the Texans’ defense actually played well in both games, limiting the Patriots to just 282 and 313 total yards. And they gave away the game earlier this season in a 27-0 loss by fumbling twice in special teams, turning the ball over three times. They actually outgained the Patriots 284-282 in that contest.
This will now be a step up in class for the Patriots against a Texans team playing their best football of the season. The Texans have outgained their last four opponents by a combined 334 yards, or by an average of 83.5 yards per game.
The Patriots are about as overvalued as they’ve been at any point this season. That’s because they come in to this game on a 7-0 SU & 6-1 ATS run, including five straight covers. But the competitions has been very suspect as they’ve faced the 49ers, Jets (twice), Rams, Ravens, Broncos and Dolphins. Only one of those teams made the playoffs, and that was a Miami squad that had nothing to play for in Week 17.
This will now be a step up in class for the Patriots against a Texans team playing their best football of the season. Houston has won four of its last five games overall with the only loss coming in a meaningless Week 17 game against Tennessee. The Texans have outgained their last four opponents by a combined 334 yards, or by an average of 83.5 yards per game.
Plays against favorites who score 27 or more points per game, after allowing 14 points or less in two straight games are 33-9 (78.6%) ATS over the last 10 seasons. The Texans are 4-1 ATS in their last five games after allowing less than 150 yards passing in their previous game.