NFL Week 3 - New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans 2016 Expert Pick

Jacoby Brissett At The Snap

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 6:10 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 20, 2016 6:10 PM UTC

The Patriots are home underdogs for the first time since 2014 when they host the Texans on Thursday Night Football. We predict they'll still put up a good fight. Get your free pick and betting preview here.

Houston Texans (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
The Texans opened 1.5-point favorites with the Patriots down to their third-string rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett for the game. Jimmy Garoppolo was knocked out of last Sunday's contest against the Dolphins with a sprained AC joint. Rumors are swirling he may try and suit up despite a 'really sore' arm, but it’s doubtful he’ll make much of an impact. This is evident in the line move, which is now down to -2.5 in Houston’s favor. The people in charge of the odds at the best sportsbooks online suggested Garoppolo’s absence is worth roughly 6 or 7 points to the line.

Running back Lamar Miller is the Houston offense right now, and he’ll have to post more big numbers for it to pull out a tough road win. He has 189 yards on 53 carries. Only 10 other handoffs have gone to anyone other than Miller through two games.

Rookie wideout Will Fuller is averaging 23.4 yards per catch. His 211 receiving yards rank fourth in the NFL and is allowing the Texans passing game to flourish. Fuller’s deep threat will force Patriots safety Devin McCourty to not shade star WR DeAndre Hopkins as closely.

The Texans defense has racked up nine sacks, tops in the NFL. You can bet they will flash a slew of exotic looks at the rookie quarterback and rush him relentlessly. The run stopping is a bit shoddy though. It yielded 118 yards on only 16 carries to the Chiefs on Sunday.

Head coach Bill O’Brien is 4-0 SU and ATS as away chalk in his brief NFL coaching career.


New England Patriots (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
Head coach Bill Belichick is 9-2 SU on Thursday Night Football, but both losses were surrendered in the only two games with Tom Brady, not under center (Drew Bledsoe, Matt Cassel).

The Pats will run, and run a lot with Brissett under center. The offense operated 25 rushing plays to just 11 passing ones when the rookie took over in the second quarter of the Dolphins game, though they were nursing a 21-point lead. Brissett finished with 92 yards on 6 of 9 passing, two of the completions were screens. Expect a lot of check downs, but his biggest issue will be reading the defense at the line of scrimmage.

New England is 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS against Houston all-time. All but one game soared over the total with 53.4 points scored combined per game.


Final Analysis
We’re not ruling out the Pats in this one. A heavy Belichick blitz package will hassle QB Brock Osweiler, whose three interceptions is second most in the NFL (Jameis Winston). Combined with a short turnaround for both teams, if New England can establish the run and Brissett remain mistake-free, an outright win at a price is not out of the question. Expect the Pats’ defense to give the team a fighting chance. The Texans feature many of the same looks as the Pats with O’Brien, offensive coordinator George Godsey, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel all former employees. Patriots ML +115 is the smart Thursday Night Football prediction. Only 7 percent of all NFL games are decided by less than three points, so bypass the +2.5 for more value in the long run. 

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Free NFL Pick: Patriots +103
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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