Both 0-1 in the NFL preseason, the New England Patriots are headed to NRG Stadium to take on the Houston Texans (8pm ET Saturday).
This is the first time the Texans and Patriots are meeting in the preseason in both teams’ history. In fact, the Texans are the only ones of the 32 active NFL franchises that the Patriots have yet to face in a preseason game.
For New England, Houston’s NRG Stadium bears some fond memories as the last time the Patriots were in the building, they were walking out of it with the Super Bowl LI championship after defeating the Atlanta Falcons. The Texans of course would like to experience similar moments of success, and having a preseason game against the Patriots is the first step in doing so. One of the things New England likes to do is hold a joint practice or two during the preseason and this year, they’ve done that for both weeks. For Houston, this was an opportunity to test their skills against the best and according to practice reports, the Texans’ defense gave New England’s offense quite the workout and often times frustrated the offense that was instrumental in the team’s Super Bowl victory.
Unlike last week however, the Patriots starters are expected to suit up and take the field, at least for a few plays. It’s traditional in the preseason to see players work their way up with minimal time in the first game, slightly more in the second and then two to three quarters worth of play in the third before sitting entirely in the fourth. At least, this is the case for many of the seasoned veterans of the league such as New England’s Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
Houston’s Future lies with 1st Round Pick
One of the best things about the preseason is getting to see how new players perform under the pressure of the NFL lights. For Houston, that means getting another look at first round rookie and standout from Clemson, Deshaun Watson. The 21-year-old Watson debuted in last week’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers and really had a strong showcase. He showed off his playmaking skills and accuracy, completing 15 of 25 passes for 175 yards and a rushing touchdown in just about two and a half quarters. A known pocket passer, Watson also showcased his ability to extend plays with his feet, adding another element to what had been a very static, one-dimensional offense under previous starter, Brock Osweiler.
Watson is the favorite to win the starting job and will have another chance to show why he shouldn’t be red-shirted his first year and why he should be on the field instead. Against the Patriots defense, Watson will face a tough test but one that he showed last week he is certainly up to. For a team whose motto has long been that they’ve just been a quarterback away from being able to make a real splash in the AFC, Watson’s success has been welcome. The young gunslinger will likely play at least half of the game on Saturday if not more and will have ample opportunities to challenge himself against one of the toughest and most physical defenses in the NFL, aside from his own.
Houston’s first team defense, which is expected to take the field for several series, will have a chance to show off their unit, specifically their defensive line, for the first time in 2017. The Texans boast an incredible group on the line, led by Jadaveon Clowney, former No. 1 overall pick, and JJ Watt, who has been a quarterback’s nightmare for his entire career. These two, when healthy, are an absolute force to be reckoned with and it’s hard to imagine a better one-two punch on the line than Clowney and Watt.
Our Preview’s New England Patriots vs Houston Texans Picks & Betting Predictions
The Patriots and the Texans have met nine times previously with New England winning all but one of those contests. Their only loss came back in 2009 when the Texans won the last game of the season, a game that Tom Brady didn’t play most of the game due to the Patriots already clinching the top seed in the playoffs. At home, New England is 5-0 against Houston.
This preseason game will be a first taste of what could come later this season when the Patriots meet the Texans at Gillette Stadium at the end of September, during the third week of the NFL season.
Given Houston’s improvements and the fact that Bill Belichick will most likely play a very cautious approach with his starters, it’s not surprising to see the hometown Texans 1.5 favorites for this game. While New England going 0-2 in the preseason would be a bit surprising, even given the fact that they haven’t put out their best teams yet, that’s likely to be the result Saturday night.
- So for this preview’s betting predictions take the Texans -1.5pts on the spread @ -110, which is available with any of Bovada, Intertops, Bookmaker or MyBookie.
- As for the total, which the top sportsbooks for USA online betting have set circa 41 points, if the joint practices are any indication, defense could very well run this game. My pick is to bet the under that 41pt total @ -110, again those betting odds are consistent with the previously named four bookies ie: Bookmaker, MyBookie, Bovada or Intertops.