Tom Brady and the New England Patriots host the Houston Texans and J.J. Watt for the second time in two months on Sunday evening in Foxboro Massachusetts. We see the same four teams in the AFC Divisional round as we did last year, the first time that has happened in back to back seasons. The Texans are hoping to change their fate from last season’s divisional round loss, and defy all odds by overcoming a 42-14 loss to these Patriots in week 14. Brady led the Patriots to a 21-0 halftime lead in that game, and if the Texans 7th ranked defense can hold Brady and the NFL’s #1 offense to a slow start, it bodes well for the Texans chances.
Tom Brady vs. Texans Secondary
The Houston Texans travel to Foxboro again, hoping to avenge their week 14 embarrassment against the New England Patriots. History is on the Texans side, as the team that loses in the regular season has won three of the past five playoff rematches. If not for the Texans loss to the Patriots in week 14, that sent them on a slump, dropping three of the next four, it would be the Texans hosting this game. Last time, the Texans 7th ranked offense failed to produce against the Patriots 25th overall defense. In their previous game, the Patriots got a 21-0 halftime lead, forcing the Texans to throw the ball to catch up. Matt Schaub and Arian Foster are going to need to start fast, control the clock, and slow down The Patriots if they hope to advance to their first AFC Championship.
Matt Schaub vs. Patriots Secondary
There aren't many souls in the football landscape willing to take a chance on the Houston Texans vs the New England Patriots on Sunday. I'm going to go against the grain and make a case for the Texans, so let's take a closer look at this juicy Divisional round match-up.
Before the Wild Card round, Vegas put up -7.5 in favor of the Patriots for their theoretical match-up with the Texans. After reviewing everything, this was a very accurate point spread for this game. Yet, after the weekend games, the line re-opened at -9.5. There hasn't been a lot of movement during the week as it still hovers around the -9 to -10 range (odds from SBRforum). Books know if they drop it below -9 they'll get a ton of teaser action on the Patriots.Between -7.5 and -9.5 there aren't any "key numbers", but once you hit -10 you have to begin looking at the underdog. With a 2.5 point inflation, I'm more than prepared to ride the Texans and take my chances.
Blood in the Water?
The Denver Broncos have won 11 straight games. The Ravens are coming off an inspired playoff win at home, but enter the game as big underdogs. Do they have a chance to win this game? Can they cover the point spread? Let's take a closer look at this Saturday match-up.
Prior to the Wild Card round, Vegas put up a theoretical point spread for every potential Divisional Round match-up. For the Ravens/Broncos, they put up a line of -7. At that number I would have made Denver an official pick this week, but when things re-opened for betting on Sunday night the Broncos were listed at -9.5 (odds from SBRforum). That's not a number I want to get involved with, but it's also not inflated enough to come in on the underdog either. The true point spread for this game should be Broncos -7.5.
Do the Ravens Have a Chance?
In a word, no.