Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the 2012 postseason:
0-4 ATS (–4.22 units)
3-1 Totals (+1.9 units)
Profit: –2.32 units
As you can tell by my record, I did not have the Texans (13-4 SU, 10-7 ATS) in their 19-13 Wild Card victory over the Cincinnati Bengals (+4 away). And I’m all right with that. The Bengals had their chances, and the Texans didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard. It was the defensive struggle everyone expected.
If the Texans can come up with another defensive effort like that against New England (12-4 SU, 9-7 ATS), then they’ve got a realistic shot at beating the football odds and maybe the Patriots themselves. The opening NFL betting lines for the Divisional round had the Pats laying 9.5 points at Gillette Stadium with a total of 48. Yes, 9.5 points to the AFC South champions.
I’d be on those NFL odds like Nate Newton on a chocolate brownie if it weren’t for Week 14. That’s when the Patriots welcomed the Texans to Foxboro and humiliated them 42-14 as 5.5-point favorites. Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes with zero picks, and that was without TE Rob Gronkowski (55 catches, 11 TDs) in the lineup. Gronkowski missed five games with a broken left forearm before getting some offensive snaps in during the season finale, finding the end zone in a 28-0 shutout of the Miami Dolphins (+11.5 away).
Dr. Sharp’s Roadhouse
Maybe I’ll eat that brownie and take the Texans, too. The early and presumably sharp action was on Houston, although our consensus reports show the market balancing out pretty quickly. You’d better believe the sportsbooks want you to add the Texans to your NFL picks, too. There will be an avalanche of public New England money coming in closer to the weekend, and the books got soaked during Wild Card Weekend when all four favorites covered.
Houston isn’t much of a public team at the moment, either. After getting some burn earlier in the season, the Texans have fallen back to the middle of the public money standings over the past 30 days. This is still a regional team – hard to use the term small-market in this case seeing as Houston is the fourth-biggest city in the United States. And the Texans did honk three of their last four regular-season games before squeezing past Cincinnati.
Looking at the efficiency charts for the regular season, we see the Patriots in third place with the No. 1 offense, the No. 15 defense and the No. 4 special teams. Houston ended up No. 11 overall with the No. 16 offense, the No. 3 defense and the No. 32 special teams – yup, dead last. Veteran kicker Shayne Graham was perfect from inside 40 yards, but just 11-of-18 from farther away, and got very little distance on his kick-offs compared to today’s young guns.
As for the weather, we’re looking at a 20-percent chance of rain for Saturday’s contest (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS) with temperatures in the high 40s. Pretty much the same we had in Week 14. On second thought, I will eat that brownie and I will take the Patriots. Houston will no doubt make some adjustments, but Bill Belichick will no doubt have his counter-adjustments ready to deploy. It’s mostly just a question of putting everyone back on the field (plus Gronk) and seeing what happens this time. I’m expecting more of the same.
NFL Picks: Patriots –9.5 (+102) at Pinnacle