Houston Texans vs New England Patriots NFL Pick – September 24th
The Houston Texans travel to New England to face the Patriots Sunday. This line has bounced around all over the place after opening up at New England -13. I have seen lines as high as New England -15.5, but the current consensus line seems to be Patriots -14.5, so that is the number we are going to break down. Both teams come into this game 1-1 after looking bad in week one and then rebounding for the win in week two. The over/under game total is 44 points, and kickoff is scheduled for 10:00 AM PST from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Nobody is quite sure just how good the New England Patriots are this season. They came into the year as the prohibitive favorites to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Then they laid an egg in week one as the opening Thursday night primetime game against the Kansas City Chiefs, getting blown out 42-27 at home. Many were shocked and wondered if the Patriots had suddenly gotten bad or if Tom Brady had finally started to show his age.
Well, all that talk quieted down when the Patriots headed to New Orleans in week two and Brady threw three TDs in the first quarter as the Patriots beat the brakes off a bad Saints team. So just who are the Patriots this season? Are they the team that got beat up at home in week one? or are they the team that looked explosive in week two? As they tend to be in most things, the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. After this week, I think we will have a much better picture of just how good these Patriots are this season.
It’s hard not to see this giant line as a bit of an overreaction to last week’s performance. After week one, the sky was falling in New England and the Patriots were only six-point favorites against possibly the worst defense in NFL history in New Orleans. That bet was a mortal lock as I think if the Pats hadn’t looked so bad in week one that line would have been closer to ten and the Patriots easily covered. Now we have another overreaction the other way as this line just seems inflated. Yes, the Patriots looked good again in week two, but anyone that really knows football knew they were still good after week one so that shouldn’t have surprised us. But more than two-touchdown favorites against a division champion playoff team from last season that looks like they just found a nice upgrade at quarterback? That stinks of the public overreacting. That QB upgrade? None other than last year’s college football National Championship game hero, rookie Deshaun Watson.
Rookie quarterbacks and New England head coach Bill Belichick just don’t seem to go together well. Rookie QB’s are 5-15 in their first start against a Belichick coached Patriots team. In Foxboro? That story gets even stronger. Rookie QB’s are 0-8 on the road at New England. Gillette Stadium is a tough place for anyone to go on the road and win, for rookies it seems to be an impossible task. Rookie Deshaun Watson will try his hand at bucking that trend on Sunday.
The Houston Texans rode a decent running game and a ferocious defense to a division title and playoff berth last season. They won their first-round playoff game against the Oakland Raiders, before seeing their season end at the hand of this New England Patriots team. The only piece of the equation that was missing from having a truly elite team? a good starting quarterback. The Texans addressed this need in the draft, selecting Deshaun Watson from Clemson University, fresh off winning a National Title.
The plan was to ease Watson into the league, but after Tom Savage embarrassed himself in week one, the Texans had no choice but to throw the rookie into the fire. In his first career start, a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Watson was able to lead his team to victory. It wasn’t a transcendent performance by any means but he got the job done, on the road, and led his team to the victory. Watson didn’t turn over the ball and rushed for the games only touchdown on a very impressive 49-yard scramble. Watson is going to have his hands full this week against Belichick and his strong defense, but I expect the rookie to acquit himself well in this one.
Do I expect the Houston Texans to march into Foxboro and beat the defending champion New England Patriots on Sunday? No, no I don’t. But do I expect the Patriots to run up the score against what is one of the best defenses in all of football? Also a no. We saw what happened in week one when the Patriots play a dominant defense, Brady got held to zero touchdown passes, and the offense looked stagnant. This is a good offense, but this isn’t a Patriots team of old that can drop 50 on anyone they want. I think Watson will look overwhelmed and confused at times as Belichick is going to throw a million different looks at him but I also expect him to do some exciting things along the way.
Watson has never been afraid of the spotlight and has had a full week to prepare with the first team for this one. If the Texans are able to protect the ball and play their brand of football, then that line of 14.5 points is much too high in this one. I am snatching up the points today and expect a competitive game. Final score prediction? Patriots win 28-17, but the Texans cover the 14.5 spread. Give me the Texans +14.5.