With rookie Jacoby Brissett – the backup to the backup – making his first NFL start, the New England Patriots will be a home underdog for the first time in two seasons against the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football. (courtesy of OddsShark.com)
In a matchup of 2-0 teams with Super Bowl aspirations, the Texans are 1.5-point favorites against the Patriots. The total is listed at 40.5 points.
The Patriots are 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 games as home underdogs, as well as 9-3 straight-up in their last 12 games against teams with winning records. Their defense, with OLB Jamie Collins, CB Malcolm Butler and FS Devin McCourty, can keep them in games without Tom Brady, although it hasn’t been statistically strong through two weeks.
Brissett is starting since Jimmy Garoppolo has a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder and Brady is serving his Deflategate suspension. Whether TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) will be ready for Thursday is in question, but TE Martellus Bennett is capable.
Houston has nine sacks in two games, but New England coach Bill Belichick is often able to design schemes that nullify pressure. The Patriots’ success might hinge on whether Brissett can make quick reads and utilize WR Danny Amendola, WR Julian Edelman and RB James White.
Houston is 1-5 ATS in their last six games against New England as well as 0-6 ATS in their last six Thursday night games, but those trends won’t last if they sustain their offensive improvement. Whether Watt, who had back surgery this offseason, will be at full strength while playing his second game in five days is questionable. The Texans, though, have other sack threats such as DE Jadeveon Clowney and OLB Whitney Mercilus.
Texans QB Brock Osweiler will be missing a key target, since WR Braxton Miller (hamstring), Houston’s slot receiver, will not play. Not having Miller to worry about could help the Patriots focus on double-covering Houston’s speedy outside threats, WR DeAndre Hopkins and WR Will Fuller. Texans RB Lamar Miller has averaged only 3.7 yards per rush in eight games vs. New England, but has a better supporting cast than he ever did with the Miami Dolphins.
The total has gone over in six of the last seven Texans-Patriots games. The total has gone under in nine of the Texans’ last 11 games against teams with winning records.