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Texans at Patriots Picks and NFL Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 1/10/2013

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

The last time these squads met, it was billed as a dream matchup for NFL fans. However, it very quickly turned into a nightmare for Houston. They were completely and utterly exposed in every aspect of the game. The result, beyond the bad loss, was a real blow to their confidence that they haven’t completely shaken. They won their wild card game last week, but they didn’t gain a lot of style points against a Cincinnati team that was just a walking train wreck on the day. Simply put, if the team that has been on the field for Houston since the start of the last meeting between these teams shows up here, then this game is going to be a blowout. The large line and betting action tilted solidly towards the home team make it clear — not surprisingly — that the public doesn’t have a lot of faith that Houston can recapture the magic of early in their season.

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Texans at Patriots Betting Storylines

It’s no surprise that for the Patriots this game will come down to what their games have largely come down to for more than a decade — Tom Brady. In their last meeting, Brady torched the Houston defense. He did whatever he wanted, and he had an answer for every adjustment the Texans made defensively. It was as good as he can play. Needless to say, Houston can’t afford to let that happen if they want to give themselves any chance of success. The biggest key is going to be to find a way for J.J. Watt and company to get into Brady’s face early and often. The closest thing to a weakness that Brady has is that he really doesn’t like feeling pressure. If he is able to stand in the pocket, he’s unbeatable, but if he has to dust himself off too many times then cracks can start to show. This plan is easier said than done, though. New England is better than any team at using running backs or tight ends to block the pass rush, so Houston will have to be far more creative than they were against the Patriots, or have been since, if they want to make this one a fair fight.

The secondary is another major concern for Houston. Against the Patriots they were just awful. They focused so much on containing Wes Welker — which they did admirably — that they did nothing else even remotely well. Those problems continued the rest of the way in the season as well, and the results weren’t pretty. They were better last week, but it’s hard to get too excited because Andy Dalton was very determined to lose that game. If they can’t take a dramatic step forward this week, then it’s going to be over early — just like it was last time they met.

On offense the biggest key for Houston is going to be to get Arian Foster effectively into the game. He was not a big factor in the last meeting, though that was in part because Houston got so far behind that they couldn’t afford to be patient. He wound up with just 46 yards on 15 carries — a paltry 3.1 yards per touch. In all three playoff games he has played he has eclipsed 100 yards, and he’ll need to do so again here. That will take pressure off of Matt Schaub and give him a chance to rediscover the mojo that has been missing too often the last month or more. New England’s run defense is their strength without the ball, so this should be an interesting and defining matchup.

Texans at Patriots NFL Odds and Betting Trends

The line opened with New England favored by nine points — significantly more than the 5.5 points they were favored by last time. About two-thirds of bets have been on New England, and that has set the line moving — though not aggressively. It is widely at 9.5 points, and is flirting with the key number of 10. The total opened at 47.5 and has remained solid at that level so far.

The home team is 3-0-1 ATS in the last four meetings between these squads. All four of those games have gone “over” the total. Houston is 4-0-2 ATS in their last six games in January. Both teams are just 2-3 ATS in their last five games.

Texans at Patriots Picks and Betting Predictions

I was very unimpressed with the effort the Texans showed in the last month of the season. They practically had home field advantage throughout the playoffs handed to them on a silver platter, but they crumbled under the pressure. That’s not going to happen to New England, and that has the potential to be the difference here. Houston should be able to come in with a disrespected mentality that they could rally around, but I’m not sure they are mentally tough enough to do it. That being said, if and when this line climbs to 10 points, I’d have to take a close look at Houston because that’s a lot of points to play with, and they are a better team than they have looked. I expect New England to win, but the slight value in this one lies with Houston.

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