Football is considered a game of opportunity where on ‘any given Sunday’ any team can win no matter how superior the other is. This is arguably ‘any given Saturday’ but the principle applies, and the Houston Texans hope to pull a rabbit out of the hat when they visit Gillette Stadium to take on heavy favorites New England Patriots (8.15pm ET Saturday).
New England opened on the books as 14.5 point home favorites, a number that has since climbed to 16pts at some of the leading USA betting sites. That makes this one of the top-five largest NFL point spreads in playoff history. The last time a spread was this large, in 1998 (16.5pts), the Minnesota Vikings covered, winning the game over the Arizona Cardinals 41-21.
This is not to say that the Texans aren’t a good team. In fact, they led the NFL in total defense this year. But offensively is where Houston struggles and if their defense can’t keep New England from putting points up on the board, Brock Osweiler (pictured) and his team will have trouble keeping up. Because not only is Houston weak offensively, but they’re matched up against a Patriots team who led the NFL in scoring defense. Simply put, this could be a long day for the Texans.
However as the Patriots have painfully learned twice now thanks to the New York Giants, it’s the NFL and anything can happen. It likely won’t, but people said the same thing about the Giants when they took on an undefeated Patriots team looking to become the first in league history to go 19-0 in a single season.
The Tom Brady Factor
According to several key players in the sports betting scene, Brady alone is worth 10 points on the sportsbooks’ lines. For one player, that seems a little high but lest not forget who that player is, what he has accomplished, and the year he has been having since returning from his early season suspension.
Brady is a man on a mission and has been playing angry since his day one. Wrongfully suspended in his opinion, it is obvious Brady and the Patriots are looking to come back from the black mark that was Deflategate and prove to the league and the viewing audience that they are unquestionably the best team in the NFL.
The all-time winningest quarterback in NFL history, Brady finished his season ranked second in rating (112.2), fifth in completion percentage (67.4) and seventh in TD (28). Mind you, he missed four games. So if you were to take his yards per game (296) and touchdowns per game (2.3) and extrapolate over a full 16 game season, Brady would have about as many touchdowns as third place on the list, Drew Brees (37) and about 4,700 passing yards, which would rank him fourth.
Houston’s defense is good at crowding the box thanks to the pass rush of JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, but they also have some depth in the secondary which has helped them be productive this year. That being said, Brady has thrown just two picks and has shown that even without Rob Gronkowski, who missed a chunk of time due to injury and will be out Saturday, even without Dion Lewis, who missed a good portion of the season on the IR, he can still find ways to put points on the board.
Our Preview’s Houston Texans at New England Patriots Picks & Betting Predictions
I’m not going to lie. A circa 16-point spread does seem a little bit daunting and as a betting advisor, it’s tough for this preview to figure out which way this one might go. In the NFL, spreads over 14 are notoriously hard to decipher because that’s a two-touchdown margin and in the playoffs, one would think any team is worth at least that. However here are my betting predictions and picks for this matchup:
- Houston has had its woes and Brady is having an MVP-type season and it might be as simple as that. So wager on the Patriots -15pts @ -110 with BetOnline Sportsbook. It is -15.5pts @ -105 betting odds with Bookmaker and -110 for the same spread with MyBookie, while Bovada are -16pts for -120.
- Go high on the points also. Yes, these are two solid defensive teams but with around a 16 point spread it is unlikely that gets covered in a 44-point game. Go over 44pts @ -115 with Bookmaker. It is over 44.5pts @ -110 with Bovada, BetOnline and MyBookie.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.