This week’s Sunday Night Football match-up presents us with two teams in very different situations. The 10-1 Patriots are cruising towards the top seed in the AFC. In sharp contrast, the 7-4 Texans are engaged in a dogfight to win the AFC South. A loss at home could cripple Deshaun Watson’s season.
There probably isn’t a team that Houston would want to avoid more at the moment than New England. Their defense is struggling mightily. Tom Brady and the Patriots offense haven’t been great this year, but this could be the perfect cure for their struggles. New England isn’t an overwhelming favorite, but you will still be required to give up 3.5 points if you want to back Bill Belichick’s team.
As always, you should make our exclusive Statschecker Site part of your required reading before you make your final wagers on this game. I’ll give you five tasty notes from the site in this piece, but to get the full benefit you need to dive in for yourself.
The Texans aren’t good on Sunday night
You might be inclined to think Watson and the Texans’ explosive offense would really thrive under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football. The results don’t back that idea up though. Houston has failed to cover the spread in each of their last six games on Sunday night.
If Bill O’Brien’s team is going to reverse that trend this weekend they will need to protect Watson. The team’s offensive line play has been erratic at best this season. Being held to just seven points by the Ravens two weeks ago gives the Patriots a perfect blueprint on how to slow this offense down. Scoring points consistently could be a real challenge for the Texans.
The Patriots are good at covering the number
New England has been the model franchise in the NFL over the past 20 years. That might lead you to think that oddsmakers have them figured out. That just isn’t true. The Patriots are an impressive 7-4 against the spread this season.
A scant line of 3.5 points shouldn’t give you a second thought in this match-up. If you believe the Patriots are going to play their best football in Houston, they can cover that number in their sleep. The real question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you trust New England to really go for the win. Is it possible that Belichick will play another conservative game to save everything from the postseason?
10.6 points is an incredible number
Tom Brady is the biggest star on the Patriots, but the team’s defense is the biggest reason why they come into this game with a 10-1 record. They are holding opponents to just 10.6 points per game on the season. To do that through 11 regular season games is nothing short of amazing.
In many ways, that means this game will come down to a battle of both team’s best units. The Texans will have to score points on New England if they want to pull off the upset. The coaching match-up between O’Brien and Belichick will be interesting to watch.
New England hates to go over
The one thing oddsmakers have really gotten wrong about the Patriots this year is their over/under totals. Brady and company are only 3-8 against that total on the year. That’s good for dead last in the NFL.
A low scoring game doesn’t bode well for the Texans. They don’t have the dynamic talent on defense to really shackle the Patriots offense. If you think the under is the right play, you need to back it up with a hefty wager on New England to cover.
The Patriots own this series
New England has won their last eight matchups against Houston. Past records aren’t always a great indicator of future success, but it’s a streak worth noting on this occasions.
In fairness to the Texans, the last two games have been pretty close. The Patriots won by a touchdown last year and only a field goal in the previous season. A blowout probably isn’t in the cards on Sunday night.
Don’t get cute, stick with the Patriots
It’s never fun to bet on the Patriots machine, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a profitable exercise. The only risk here in betting New England is the sheer amount of desperation that might be present on the Texans’ sideline.
Unfortunately for everyone associated with the Texans, Belichick might be the least caring person in the NFL. He’s going to do everything he can to remove emotion from this game. Look for him to succeed in that endeavor and cover this number with relative ease.