New England Patriots (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, 1-0 O/U) vs. Houston Texans (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, 1-0 O/U)
NFL: Saturday, August 19, 2017, NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas, 8 pm ET
Lines: Houston -1.5, Over/Under: 40
It’s Week 2 of the NFL preseason and with it comes a matchup between a pair of teams from the AFC who made the postseason a year ago. The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are on the road as they take on the Houston Texans Saturday night. New England lost their preseason opener, falling 31-24 at home to Jacksonville last Thursday. Houston came up a loser on the road, 27-17, at Carolina in their opener last Wednesday. The Patriots hold a 6-1 lead in the all-time regular season series and won both playoff meetings. That includes a 34-16 home win in the AFC Divisional Round on January 14, 2017 in the most recent meeting.
New England Patriots Boast Embarrassment of Riches
New England struggled in their preseason opener as they didn’t bother sending superstars like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski onto the field. The defense was awful as they were carved up for 447 yards of total offense by the Jaguars in the game. New England was gouged for big plays as they allowed touchdown passes from 97 and 42 yards. The Patriots also gave up a 79-yard touchdown run in the game. New England won the time of possession battle 31:59 to 28:01 and the first down battle 26-19 while getting outgained by 21 yards.
Jimmy Garoppolo, who was bandied about in potential trade talks in the offseason, hit 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards and a pair of scores. Jacoby Brissett completed 8 of 13 passes for 88 yards in the game as well. The ground game saw LeShun Daniels Jr. lead the team but he totaled just 39 yards on 11 carries. Brandon Bolden (five carries, 33 yards) and Dion Lewis (seven carries, 32 yards) saw their fair share of work as well. Jacob Hollister had a big game with seven receptions for 116 yards as he tries to make an impact in order to earn a place on the roster. K.J. Maye and Austin Carr each caught scoring passes in the defeat.
Houston Texans Still Figuring Out QB Situation
Houston managed to go 9-7 last season and won the AFC South despite being outscored by 49 points on the year. The Texans have to be more productive offensively and a lot of that stems from the quarterback position. The Brock Osweiler experiment is over: the question is, can Tom Savage maintain the starting role over journeyman Brandon Weeden and rookie first round pick DeShaun Watson? Coach Bill O’Brien has his work cut out for him as he tries to sculpt this Texans team into a postseason contender again in 2017.
Watson led the Texas in passing as he hit 15 of 25 throws for 179 yards while adding 24 yards plus a score on the ground. He was sacked three times though, which shows there are still adjustments to be made. Savage hit 9 of his 11 passes for 69 yards while Weeden finished 4 of 9 for 38 yards. Houston’s offensive line was a bit shaky as they gave up five sacks in the contest. Rookie D’Onta Foreman had a good showing on the ground, carrying the ball nine times for 76 yards plus a score. Alfred Blue was next in line with five attempts for 33 yards. In the game, 13 different players caught at least one pass for the Texas with Dres Anderson leading the way: he grabbed four passes for 80 yards.
- Patriots are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games on fieldturf
- Patriots are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 road games
- Patriots are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Saturday games
- Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall
- Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. AFC
Both teams came off disappointing losses in their preseason openers. It’s a safe bet that the Patriots won’t give up three touchdowns from more than 40 yards out in this one. You’ll likely see Brady, at least for a short period, in this one as he rounds into shape. Houston has major questions on the offensive side of the ball, especially at quarterback. The team has to develop a secondary receiver with Will Fuller V out of the lineup with a broken collarbone. Foreman was impressive in his debut and he could prove to be a nice complement to Lamar Miller. In the end, the Patriots have too many weapons as they get the win.
Pick: New England Patriots +1.5
This will be an interesting challenge for the Texans: their defense is their calling card. Houston has to rely on the defense to either score or set up short fields for the offense to capitalize on. The problem for the Texans is that they’re facing a Patriots team that can pile up yards and points regardless of who is on the field. Garoppolo was sharp against the Jaguars in the preseason opener despite playing without Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Mike Gillislee and others for the most part, or in some cases at all. That makes for a major challenge when the second and third-tier guys are putting up solid numbers.
The over is 4-0 in the Patriots’ last 4 games overall, 7-1-1 in their last 9 Saturday games and 60-28 in their last 88 games on fieldturf. The teams have combined to go over the total in seven of their last nine meetings. Seeing that both teams went over the total in their first preseason game this season, look for that to take place again in this contest, even with Houston’s defense.