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New England Patriots
Divisional Playoff Pick
By Jason Green
Do the Texans have any chance to beat the Patriots? Well, pretty much all the experts say no and there is a reason they are over a 2 TD underdog on the road. OK, so they did win the Wild Card game facing the Raiders last week, but they faced an Oakland 3rd string QB and they face Tom Brady in this game.
Earlier in the season the Texans took a trip to New England to face the Pats without Brady, because of the Deflate-Gate suspension but lost 27-0 out-gaming the Pats, but turning the ball over 3 times. Houston has the league's top-ranked defense and they will have to ride that, big time, to have any chance to get the AFC title game.
The Pats are coming off a bye and they won their last 7 games of the season. On top of that their D has been superb lately only giving up 20 points total in their last 3 games of the season.
The Patriots have covered the spread in their last 4 home games facing the Texans.
In the Texans last game they beat the Raiders in the Wild Card round 27-14 where they covered the spread as a 4-point favorite.
In their last game the Patriots easily beat the Miami Dolphins 35-14 covering the spread as a 7.5-road favorite.
Brock Osweiler got big money in the off-season, but failed to play well this season under center and is back after an injury to backup Tom Savage. He played pretty well in the win over Oakland passing for 168 yards with 1 TD and no INT. RB Lamar Miller only averaged 2.4 yards per carry in the game, where he rank for 73 yards, and his play will be key in this game.
Houston's less than dynamic offense will be facing a hot New England D that ranks 12th in pass defense and 3rd in run defense.
Brady put up MVP numbers on the season even after missing four games and he has no lack of targets on the outside and in the backfield LeGarrette Blount rushed for over 1,150 yards on the season. Houston has a legit pass rush and that unit will be key, as they have to get in the backfield and pressure Brady and overall their D has to stop the run game. The Texans rank 2nd in the NFL in pass defense and 12th in run defense.
Houston is only 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games, 2-5 ATS facing a team with a winning record, and they have an Under record of 5-2 in their last 7 games.
New England is 24-9-2 ATS in their last 35 home games, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Divisional Playoffs games, and they also have an Under record of 5-2 in their last 7 games.
Bettorsworld Pick - As mentioned many times on these pages, we will rarely lay double digits in the NFL. It's simply not a smart proposition over the long haul. You can be spot on with your analysis and still lose your wager with a back door cover because of a late garbage TD.
When we look at the Texans yards per point numbers on the road, they are down right awful. Their offensive number of 19.6 combined with their defensive number of 12.9 show us a team that can't move the ball and convert yards into points on offense and a defense that leaks like a sieve.
Also note the Texans turnover differential of -7, the only playoff team with a negative differential. The Pats are +12.
Use caution however. While our model likes the Pats to win, it suggests it won't be by enough. When we use data only from the last 7 games, the model has the Pats winning by only a TD. When we use data from the entire season, it's a 10 point Pats win.
We think the Pats pile it on here. Patriots -15
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