Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots Preview
Where: Gillette Stadium – Foxboro, Massachusetts
When: Saturday, January 14, 8:15 PM ET
TV Broadcast: CBS
Writer’s Pick: New England Patriots (-16)
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Betting on the Houston Texans (+16)
The Houston Texans finally won their first playoff game in franchise history as they beat the Oakland Raiders, 27-14.
Head coach Bill O’Brien decided to go back to Brock Osweiler at quarterback after benching him in favor of Tom Savage for the final two weeks of the regular season. Osweiler wasn’t amazing – he finished 14-of-25 for 168 yards and accounted for two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) – but he made enough plays to justify his start. More importantly, he didn’t throw an interception, the first time he’d done so in his last seven games.
The running game rushed for 144 yards, although they could only get less than 3 yards per carry against a mediocre Raiders run defense.
With the Texans’ tepid offense playing as expected, it was the Texans defense that carried the team to victory. They completely shut down the Raiders’ Connor Cook-led offense, holding them to just 203 total yards of offense. Cook, a third-string rookie QB making his first-ever NFL start, went just 18-of-45 for 161 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, one of which Jadeveon Clowney returned for a pick-six.
Obviously, there will be a big step up in competition from Cook to Tom Brady, but that Houston defense has been excellent against the pass all season. The Texans finished No. 5 in the league in pass defense per DVOA. Tom Brady had his worst game of the season against Denver’s formidable pass rush, and with Clowney and Whitney Merciles the Texans have the tools to put some similar pressure on the Pats QB.
Betting on the New England Patriots (-16)
There are a lot of reasons to like the Pats in this game. For one, they’ll be at home. They went 4-1 SU and ATS in Foxboro in five games with Tom Brady starting at quarterback. They are also 7-1 in their last eight home playoff games.
Meanwhile, one of their two home wins without Brady came against the Houston Texans back in Week 3. Jacoby Brissett started at quarterback, and Bill Belichick tailored a terrific gameplan to combat the Texans. They ran right through the Texans’ middling run defense, rushing for 185 yards and three touchdowns.
The Pats should be able to throw a bit more with Brady back, though. Brady has been close to flawless since suffering their only home loss of the season to Seattle. In the past seven games, he has thrown for 16 touchdowns against just one interception. As a result, the Pats went 7-0 (6-1 ATS) in those seven games.
The Pats defense did a great job shutting down Brock Osweiler and the Texans offense (although they did have the benefit of some costly Houston special teams mistakes), and their defense has only improved as the season’s gone on. The Pats were No. 4 in rush defense DVOA, so don’t expect the running game to help Osweiler too much in this matchup.
New England is 7-1 (6-2 ATS) all-time against Houston. Belichick has also won the last two meetings with former assistant Bill O’Brien in charge of the Texans by a combined score of 54-6. The Pats won their lone postseason meeting with the Texans, 41-28, back in 2013.
The Pats plow through the Texans once again. New England (-16) takes it, 31-10, at home.
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