Houston Texans (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS, 0-2 O/U) vs. New England Patriots (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS, 2-0 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, September 24, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. EST
The Line: New England Patriots -13. Total: 43.5.
The Houston Texans will have enjoyed a long week when they visit the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Houston lost its opener to Jacksonville before winning at Cincinnati last Thursday. The Patriots bounced back from a setback against Kansas City by crushing New Orleans this past weekend.
Nothing elementary for Watson
It did not take long for the Deshaun Watson era to get underway in Houston. Former starting quarterback Tom Savage was benched at halftime of a 29-7 Week 1 loss to Jacksonville. Enter Watson, the first-round draft pick who led Clemson to the National Championship last season. The 22-year-old completed 12 of 23 passes for 102 yards with one touchdown and one interception after replacing Savage against the Jaguars. He led the Texans to a 13-9 victory at Cincinnati last Thursday when his performance was highlighted by a 49-yard touchdown run. Watson finished with 125 passing yards (no TDs or INTs) and 67 on the ground. Head coach Bill O’Brien says the playbook will not be simplified even though Watson is a rookie.
“I don’t feel any limitations,” O’Brien noted. “He’s a different quarterback, so I think that it’s relative to what each guy can do, and with Deshaun, he can do some different things. Relative to what his skill set is and what he knows and what he can do, I don’t think there’s any limitations…. He’ll get the bulk of the first-team reps now (in practice). And I think, just based on that alone and his film study and learning from week to week, he’ll get better and better. He’s a quick study. He’s a quick learner.”
Tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Dont’a Hightower could be in action for the Patriots on Sunday. Gronkowski left this past Sunday’s game against New Orleans with a groin injury, but according to reports, he may have been able to stay in there if it had been–for example–a more meaningful contest later in the season. As expected, head coach Bill Belichick did not provide any updates on Monday and Tom Brady was also quiet regarding Gronkowski’s health. Hightower sustained a knee injury during a Week 1 loss to Kansas City, although he has had, even more, time to recover as that showdown was played on a Thursday night. Two different doctors indicated that Hightower’s issue would sideline him for two to three weeks.
Gronkowski has eight receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown through two abbreviated outings this season. The 28-year-old was a non-factor in last year’s game against Houston, going without a catch while being targeted only once. Still, New England dominated 27-0 at home.
The Houston Texans are:
- 3-8 ATS in their last 11 overall
- 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against the AFC
The New England Patriots are:
- 33-16-2 ATS in their last 51 overall
- 26-10-2 ATS in their last 38 home games
- 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against the AFC
Unsurprisingly, New England got back on track following an unceremonious home loss the Chiefs in its opener. The Patriots took care of New Orleans 36-20 last Sunday even though Gronkowski did not last the whole game. In last year’s head-to-head matchup, New England destroyed the Texans even though Jacoby Brissett was under center with Tom Brady serving a four-game suspension. Houston is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 overall, 3-7 ATS in its last 10 on the road, 2-5 ATS in its last seven against the AFC, and 0-5 ATS in its last five following a win. The Patriots are 33-16-2 ATS in their last 51 overall, 26-10-2 ATS in their last 38 at home, 6-1 ATS in their last seven against the AFC, 7-1 ATS in their last eight on fieldturf, 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings between the two teams, and 5-0 in their last five at home against the Texans. Count on those trends continuing.
Pick: New England Patriots -13
It sounds like Gronkowski should be back for New England, although that is something that should be monitored throughout the week. Offense has not been a problem for the Patriots so far this season, but their defense stunk against Kansas City and was mediocre in the win over New Orleans. Although Houston’s defense is vaunted, it is a unit that gave up 29 points to the Jaguars. The over is 5-2 in the Texans’ last seven after rushing for more than 150 yards in their previous outing. It is also 6-0 in the Patriots’ last six overall, 47-23 in their last 70 at home, 4-0 in their last four against the AFC, and 4-0 in their last four following a win. Additionally, the over is 7-2 in the last nine meetings between the two teams and 4-1 in Houston’s last five trips to New England. Look for this one to go over the total.