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Author: Brad Cunningham
NFL Odds: Patriots vs. Texans
After getting their season back on track against the Ravens, the Patriots will continue their march toward a playoff spot against the Texans.
It’s been a roller coaster of a season in New England, but the Patriots seemingly seem to have righted the ship after a tough start to the season. Sitting at 4-5, they have no breathing room and can’t afford to lose games like this one given how difficult the AFC is.
On the other side, this season has gone about as poorly as possible for the Texans. They haven’t beaten a team not named the Jaguars this season. However, the NFL did the Texans no favors as far as scheduling was concerned: Houston’s opponents are a combined 47-25 so far this season.
So are the Texans being undervalued as home underdogs on Sunday? Let’s take a closer look.
New England Patriots
Cam Newton has really struggled since arriving in New England. He’s averaging only 7.4 yards per passing attempt and has three touchdown passes to seven interceptions. That has led the Patriots to the bottom half of the NFL in passing success and explosiveness (per Sharp Football Stats).
The Pats are really missing wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is currently on injured reserve. But the bread and butter of their offense is the run game.
They are top 10 in both rushing success rate and explosiveness, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. It’s been a rotating cast at running back, but Damien Harris has emerged as the best of the bunch while averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. New England may be down two starters on the offensive line, though, as both guards (Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney) are questionable to play this weekend.
The 2020 Patriots defense sure doesn’t look like a Bill Belichick-led unit.
The Patriots are in the bottom eight in both defensive rushing and passing success. However, they’ve been one of the worst teams in the NFL against the pass this season.
They’re allowing a crazy 8.2 yards per passing attempt and are dead last in passing explosiveness allowed. Last season’s Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore has missed the last three games but looks like he’s set to return Sunday. Even with Gilmore, though, the Patriots are going to have a tough time shutting down Deshaun Watson.
Despite the 2-7 record, Watson has been playing really well this season. He’s completing almost 70% of his passes and is averaging 8.4 yards per attempt. That has led Houston to being inside the top 10 in both passing success rate and explosiveness. He and Will Fuller have one of the best connections in the NFL, with the speedy receiver averaging 10.46 yards per target.
Watson will be licking his chops, because the Patriots are the worst team in the NFL against the pass.
The Texans’ run game has been a different story. Houston is running the ball for only 3.9 yards per carry. To make matters worse, David Johnson is on Injured Reserve, and star left tackle Laremy Tunsil is reportedly not expected to play.
However, most of Houston’s success on Sunday is going to come through the air.
The defense has dealt with all sorts of issues against both the run and pass. Houston is allowing a whopping 5.2 yards per rush, which is the league’s worst mark. That’s going to be a problem on Sunday considering the strength of the Patriots’ offense is its rushing attack.
The Texans also haven’t been very good against the pass, allowing 7.3 yards per attempt and ranking 25th in defensive passing success. They’re also last in sack rate.
If the Texans are going to be victorious against New England, it’s going to be on the back of Watson.
Even though this is a lost season for the Texans, Watson is still playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
When you think of a Belichick defense, your mind automatically goes to them being one of the best in NFL. However, this season has been a different story, especially in the secondary. Watson should be able throw all over the Patriots.
I have the Texans favored by -2.37 points at home, so there’s some value on them at +2.5, and would play them down to +1.
PICK: Texans +2.5
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Author: Brad Cunningham