New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans and New England Patriots face off on Sunday in an AFC Divisional Playoff match up that is a rematch of a game played just a few weeks back. The Patriots are -9.5 point favorites over the Texans with an over/under point total set at 48.
The Houston Texans were in position for a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs until the final weeks of the season when they sputtered down the stretch. Last week in their Wildcard win over the Bengals the Texans looked very much like the team they were earlier in the season dominating and making plays on both sides of the football. Matt Schaub wasn’t perfect last week but he was efficient completing 76.3 percent of his passes and while his one interception was returned for a touchdown it was the only mistake he made all day. Arian Foster was able to do what he has done most of the season which is control the game on the ground averaging 4.4 yards per carry including finding the endzone once and catching eight passes. The Texans receivers also came through in the clutch converting several key third downs. The Texans defense looked suffocating like they did earlier this season with J.J. Watt and Connor Barwin applying the pressure and Jonathan Joseph and Brandon Harris having big days in coverage. Houston wasn’t competitive in their last trip to New England and look for them to focus in on this one for a better effort.
The New England Patriots are focused on getting back to the Super after losing there last season and losing in their prior trip. The Patriots had a few stumbles along the way but by the end of the season they were playing some of their best football and were runway winners of the AFC East. ToM Brady will be looking to shed the memories of last year’s Super Bowl loss which he took badly and Brady had a big night in the first meeting of these two. Steven Ridley has taken over the Pats’ ground attack averaging 4.4 yards per carry while Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, and Brandon Bolden are all contributing. Wes Welker had another big year with 118 catches, Brandon Lloyd had 74 catches, and Rob Gronkowski should be at full speed for this one as well. The New England defense is much improved over last year’s unit and while they still have growing to do they will find out soon enough if what they are now is good enough.
Houston is 6-2 against the spread in their last eight road games against a team with a winning home record, 9-3-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record, 11-5-1 against the spread following a game which they covered the spread, and 1-4 against the spread following a win. New England is 2-5 against the spread following a win by 14 or more points, 1-7 against the spread in their last eight home playoff games, 1-8 against the spread in their last nine playoff games, and 1-4 against the spread following a game which they covered the spread. The home team is 3-0-1 against the spread in the last four meetings of these two.
The total in this one suggests points will be scored and while normally I go with the under in the playoffs I like the over.