Houston Texans (13-4 SU, 10-6-1 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS)
AFC Divisional Playoff
Date/Time: Sunday January 13th, 2013. 4:30PM Eastern
Where: Gillette Stadium Foxboro, M.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Hou +9.5/NE -9.5
Over/Under Total: 48
The road to Super Bowl makes a stop in Foxboro this Sunday when the New England Patriots host the Houston Texans inside Gillette Stadium. The visiting Texans took down the Bengals in a gritty 19-13 grudge match last week to advance to this week’s AFC Divisional Playoff Game. Houston’s defense flexed their muscles last week by holding Cincinnati to just 198 total yards in a dominating performance. This week J.J. Watt and the Houston defense will face a huge test against Tom Brady’s quick striking Patriots offense when both teams collide for a chance to earn a ticket to the AFC Championship Game.
New England’s entire team should be well rested following their bye last week which should give even bigger worry towards that Houston defense. The Patriots offense led the NFL this season by averaging 427 yards and 34.8 points per game. Perhaps more importantly QB Tom Brady blasted this same Texans’ defense with 4 passing touchdowns inside Gillette Stadium back in week 14 in route to a 42-14 blowout. Beyond being arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, Brady has had one of his best seasons on paper with 4,827 yards, 34 touchdowns, and just 8 picks.
WR Wes Welker leads the team with 118 catches for 1,354 yards and 6 touchdowns. However, Brandon Lloyd and Rob Gronkowski have both played large roles towards the offensive success with a combined 1,700 yards and 15 touchdowns. Clearly the Patriots have tons of weapons in the passing game and one of the greats behind center. So how can the Texans slow down this offense and avoid any week 14 repeat performances? For Houston’s defense, everything starts up front along the defensive line led by J.J. Watt. Watt led the NFL with 20.5 sacks this season just two shy of Michael Strahans NFL record. It will be absolutely imperative that Watt, Antonio Smith, and the rest of the guys up front keep pressure on Brady in effort to keep the Patriots offense from posting another big number.
Currently the Patriots are listed as 9.5 point favorites over the Texans and that number could easily move to double digits by game time. Over 2/3s of the betting public are laying the points with the Patriots with that week 14 blowout fresh in everyone’s memory.
Still, the Texans showed some signs of hope last week by the way they were able to run the football with Arian Foster against a tough Cincinnati defense. Foster carried the ball for a season high 32 carries resulting in 140 yards and a touchdown. Foster’s consistency on the ground helped Houston gain twice as many first downs as Cincinnati (24-12) and dominate the time of possession battle by eating up just less than 39 minutes of game play. If Houston can dial up that recipe again this week and keep the Patriots offense on the sideline, the Texans would be a strong pick to cover the spread. Throw in a few big plays between QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson (112 receptions, 1,598 yards, and 4 touchdowns) and a flat out upset comes into the picture as well.
Betting Trends: Houston is just 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games on the road and just 1-3 ATS in their last 4 meetings with the Patriots. The total has gone under in 5 of Houston’s last 6 games. The Patriots have gone over the total in 6 of their last 7 games and 11 of their last 14 home games.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New England’s offense showed their ability to move the football with ease in their last meeting against Houston and I expect the same yet again. I understand that the last meeting does not hold any significance in sports betting, but the Patriots offense creates a big mismatch for this Texans defense which will be exploited for the 2nd straight time this Sunday. Additionally, the unsung hero in recent weeks has been the Patriots defense that has given up just 16 points on average over the last 6 outings. Lay the points and take the easy win. New England -9.5
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