The Houston Texans and the New England Patriots are set to square off in NFL playoff betting action this week at Gillette Stadium. But before you make your NFL picks for the big game on Sunday, check out some of the great NFL betting trends that we have for the duel!
Houston Texans Notes: In the end, the Texans still made it to the AFC’s version of the Final Four. They won their second ever playoff game last week against the team that they beat for their first ever playoff victory, the Cincinnati Bengals, but now, they are going to try to do something that they have never done before: Win a playoff game on the road. It’s one thing to win a home playoff game. It’s something completely different to do so against a great team on the road with so much on the line. The formula has been set for how to beat this team though, and for the most part, that game plan was executed last week against the Bengals. The defense allowed a total of two field goals and didn’t allow a third down conversion. There were some flaws for sure, namely the pick six that QB Matt Schaub threw and the fact that the offense settled for four K Shayne Graham field goals against just one touchdown, but if even one of those drives turned into a touchdown instead of a field goal and the pick six wasn’t thrown, the outcome of the game would have looked significantly different. The Texans are now 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS all-time in their history in the playoffs.
RB Arian Foster rushed for 140 yards last week, marking the eighth time this year that he reached the century mark. Houston went 8-0 SU and 6-2 ATS in those games. It was also a game where DE JJ Watt picked up a sack. He was a monster and forced QB Andy Dalton into all sorts of situations that he didn’t want to be in. Watt only had four games this year in which he didn’t get at least one sack. The last two games in which he didn’t put the quarterback on the ground at least once, the team was beaten by the Indianapolis Colts and these very same Patriots. Houston now has just two total touchdowns in its last three and a half games. Schaub has just one touchdown pass in his last five games and has gone three games and three quarters since his last touchdown throw.
There isn’t much fresh injury news for the Texans, as they came out of last week’s game against the Bengals relatively healthy. RB Justin Forsett was scratched from the game with a knee injury, but he is merely a change of pace back that wouldn’t be expected to play all that often anyway. LB Tim Dobbins was left out of the fold with a shoulder injury and probably shouldn’t be counted on in this one either. G Antoine Caldwell is questionable with a hamstring injury.
New England Patriots Notes: For as badly as the Texans played down the stretch of the season, it’s not like the Patriots really played all that much better. They only went 2-3 ATS in their final five games, though one of those covers did come against the Texans in Week 14. The positive is that the defense has probably overachieved in this stretch of games though, allowing just 16 points or fewer in four of the five games. The negative though, is that the offense was held to just 23 by both the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. We also have to remember that the Pats are just 1-8 ATS in their last nine playoff games, though the one win did come in the divisional round of the playoffs last year in a 45-10 win for the Pats over QB Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. That 45 points was the most that QB Tom Brady put up in a game in his postseason career, but he was the only time that he directed his team to more than 23 points in his last seven playoff games. New England is actually just 3-4 SU in those games.
Still, Brady had himself a great season this year, guiding his team to the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 scoring offense in football. He threw for 4,827 yards and 34 TDs against eight picks, and he is certainly going to be the favored man to pick up his 17th career playoff victory on Sunday. Brady truly has four remarkable receivers to work with. WR Wes Welker caught 118 passes for 1,354 yards with six TDs this year, while WR Brandon Lloyd very quietly had 74 catches for 911 yards and four scores. TE Rob Gronkowski only played in 11 games and caught 55 passes for 790 yards and 11 TDs, and TE Aaron Hernandez, who had two TDs against Houston the first time around, caught 51 passes for 483 yards and five touchdowns in just 10 healthy games. RB Stevan Ridley had one of the best years on the ground that a New England back has had in years, rushing for 1,263 yards and 12 tuddies.
As always, you see eight trillion question marks on the injury report for the Patriots, but most of that is bunk. TE Rob Gronkowski is officially over his forearm injury and is back in the fold, while others Welker and Lloyd that always show up on the injury report as probable or questionable are nothing to worry about. DB Aqib Talib and DE Rob Ninkovich are both listed as questionable early in the week with hip injuries, but both are expected to played. Generally speaking, if the player isn’t listed on IR, we expect that Head Coach Bill Belichick is going to have him ready to go on Sunday afternoon.
Head To Head: There have only been four meetings all-time between these two, including this year’s 42-14 beat down in favor of the Pats here at Gillette Stadium that turned Houston’s season upside down. The Texans are just 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS in those games, and the two ATS defeats that they have suffered have both come here in Foxboro. In those games, the Pats have scored 40 and 42 points, and they are averaging 33.0 points per game in this series all-time.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.