Few things in the NFL turn out just as expected. That’s part of the charm of the league. If things happen as they should, though, then this Monday night’s gem should be the best game of the season so far. These teams are in the Top 4 of most people’s NFL power rankings. If you asked a lot of people — especially public bettors — what the AFC Championship matchup was going to be this would be it — though the game is more likely to be in Houston instead of Foxboro. There is a whole lot of football to be played before then, though, and those matchups rarely end up like people think they will. There is no denying, though, that this game gives us a very good opportunity to see where the power really lies in the AFC and if one or both of these teams is really built to go all the way.
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Texans at Patriots Betting Storylines
In an interesting twist, both teams come into this game riding matching six-game winning streaks. Not all winning streaks are created equal, though, and by looking back at who teams have beaten along the way we can get a sense of how impressive the streak really is. If you buy into that theory then you probably have to give the small edge to the Texans. New England has beaten up on weaklings. The Colts are a likely playoff team, but the rest of their victims — the Jets twice, St. Louis, Buffalo, and Miami — aren’t exactly a challenging cast of characters. That stands in stark contrast to the next two weeks — Houston is followed by San Francisco. Houston has beaten two likely playoff teams in Baltimore and Chicago, has also beaten Buffalo, and beat the Lions and Titans on the road as well as the Jaguars at home. It’s not the toughest schedule in the league, but it’s better than New England’s. The one concern with their success, though, is that they needed overtime against both Jacksonville and Detroit. Given their advantage in skill and execution over both teams, they really shouldn’t be letting those games come down to a coin flip. When you look at the schedules of both teams, what really stands out is that it’s quite possible that their records are inflated. Both teams have one thing in common — they have lost to their strongest opponents. In the case of Houston that was Green Bay, and for New England it was Baltimore.
Injuries have been an issue on defense for the Texans since Brian Cushing went down in Week 5 for the season. Heading into this game against a New England defense that ranks No. 1 in both points scored and yards gained, though, the number of injuries could potentially be a major issue here. Linebacker Brooks Reed missed last week and isn’t back practicing yet. With Cushing already gone that’s a concern. More concerning, though, is the secondary. Cornerback Alan Ball isn’t practicing after missing last week, and Johnathan Joseph is struggling to return from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for two weeks. He’s expected to be active, but if he is still hurt, or limited by his injury, then the secondary could have a massive problem. There isn’t a quarterback more suited to picking on a vulnerable secondary than Brady, so this is a very important storyline to keep an eye on leading into the game.
J.J. Watt is on track to be the Defensive Player of the Year and even to draw some votes for MVP if he keeps up his current play. He’s second in the league in sacks with 16.5 and has proven very capable of disrupting even the best of opposing quarterbacks. New England’s offensive line has done a good job of protecting Brady — 26 quarterbacks have had their QB sacked more than Brady has gone down. The ability of Watt to get to Brady, or to be a pest even if he doesn’t get through, will have a big impact on the outcome of this game. The winner of this showdown has a good chance of winning the game.
Texans at Patriots NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the Patriots favored by five points. That has fallen since, and the key number of three can be found in many places. Action has been split evenly between the two teams, so the line movement is a good sign that smart money has been hitting the Texans. The total opened at 51.5, and has remained stable at that level.
These teams last met almost three years ago, with the Texans winning by a touchdown at home. That was enough for a “push”. Houston is 6-0 ATS in their last six at teams with a winning road record. They are 0-4 ATS in their last four Monday night games. New England, meanwhile, is 4-0 ATS the last time they have played on Monday.
NFL Picks: Texans at Patriots Betting Predictions
I’ve gone back and forth on this one several times, so that’s usually a pretty good sign that there isn’t a lot of value to be found — at least in my eyes. There are concerns on both sides. In the end, though, I’m skeptical of who New England has played against, so I’ll take the points. I’d take 3.5 happily if the price was right, but at three points it’s worth a look, too.
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