The Houston Texans stumbled down the stretch to blow the top overall seed and were forced to play in the wild card round as the three-seed, where they were very unimpressive while getting by the sixth-seeded Cincinnati Bengals 19-13.
As a reward, the Texans now get to revisit Foxboro, which is where their late season swoon began with a 42-14 thrashing at the hands of the New England Patriots in a Monday night game. The Patriots are now -9½ in the rematch with the total set at 47½.
PATRIOTS – TEXANS PLAYOFFS BETTING LINE:
1. Why New England will cover the spread: The Patriots will cover this spread if their offensive line plays as well as it did in the regular season meeting. Some thought going into that game that the Houston front seven was too physical for the New England offensive line, but the Patriots stood tall yielding only one sack, giving Tom Brady enough time to throw for 296 yards and four touchdowns in basically three quarters and opening up enough running lanes for New England to rush for 130 yards. If the offensive line plays that well again, then nothing else in this game may matter as the Patriots may approach 40 points again and the Texans lack the firepower to keep pace.
2. Why Houston will cover the spread: The Texans need to do two things to cover this spread, with one being run the ball on offense as well as they have most of the season and again in the wild card game last week, and the other being put more pressure on Brady on defense, as alluded to in New England’s key. Houston rushed for an even 100 yards in 27 carries in the first meeting, and while some teams would take that, you must consider that still equates to less than 4.0 yards per carry and Houston averaged 133.5 rushing yards during the season to rank eighth in the NFL. As for the defensive goal, it would help if J.J. Watt shows up this time after recording just two tackles in the first encounter.
3. Total Talk: The Texans may accomplish their goal of running the ball better and attempt to shorten this game. The problem though is that we see no reason for the New England offensive line to slack off, so although the Texans may possess the ball more from the outset, Brady & Co. will need less time to put up touchdowns. Repeat that process a few times and the Patriots will end up with a two score lead, effectively taking the Texans out of their offensive game plan. Once that happens, this game could get ugly again like the first meeting did.
As you might have guessed we like the ‘over’ quite a bit here as the Patriots are simply indefensible when Brady gets time to pick and choose his poisons.
4. Betting Trends for Texans/Patriots: The Patriots are 63-28-2 ATS in their last 93 games after gaining more than 350 total yards in their previous game. Also, the ‘over’ is 10-3 in the Patriots’ last 13 games after gaining more than 150 rushing yards in their previous game.
New England 34 – Houston 21
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