Houston at New England AFC Divisional Round Odds, Pick & TV InfoWhen: Saturday, Jan. 14, 8:15 PM ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro
Stream Option: NFL Live
Opening NFL Lines: Patriots -16 (44.5)
Why Bet on Houston?The Texans advanced to the Divisional round with a 27-14 win over Oakland last week. The Texans, who led the NFL in total defense (301.3 yards per game) during the regular season, limited the Raiders to 203 total net yards. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus had two sacks and three tackles for a loss. He now has five sacks and six tackles for a loss in his past two playoff games. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl, had an interception last week to set up a touchdown in his first career playoff game.
Brock Osweiler, benched on Dec. 18, got his job back against the Raiders with Tom Savage out with a concussion, and played his best game of the season to give the Texans their first playoff victory since the 2012 season. It was the first career playoff game for Osweiler, who was benched for Peyton Manning before the postseason last season with Denver. He finished with 168 yards passing and Osweiler’s second-quarter touchdown to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was his first passing touchdown at home since Week 8 against the Detroit Lions. Osweiler also had a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give the Texans a 20-point lead, their biggest of the season. For just the third time this season, Osweiler did not turn the ball over in a game he started. He will start again this week.
“I thought he had a good game. He took care of the ball, he executed the game plan,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “He got into a good rhythm and he was able to get off to a good start on a lot of drives.”
Things will be a bit tougher this week against Tom Brady. O’Brien, who worked closely with Brady as a coach in New England, did not mince words when talking about the three-time Super Bowl MVP.
“To me, he’s the best quarterback to play the game,” O’Brien said. “He’s done it with different types of teams, different teammates. He’s a great quarterback. So in preparation for him, it’s very difficult.”
This is the second postseason meeting between the two teams. In the 2012 divisional playoffs (January 13, 2013), the Patriots defeated the Texans 41-28 at Gillette Stadium. New England has won seven of the eight all-time meetings, including the playoffs. The Patriots are 4-0 at home against the Texans, including a 27-0 victory in Week 3.
Why Bet on New England?In the past 40 postseasons, a team has been favored by more than 14 points only four times and the three favorites of at least 16 points all covered. The only other times in the past 40 years a team has been at least a 16-point playoff favorite: The 1998 Minnesota Vikings were 16-point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional round of the playoffs and won by 20. In the 1994 postseason, Steve Young’s San Francisco 49ers were 17.5-point favorites over the Chicago Bears in the divisional round (won by 29) and then 18-point favorites over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX (won by 23).
New England won its eighth consecutive division title, the longest streak in NFL history. The team also earned the top seed in the AFC playoff field for the sixth time (2016, 2014, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2003), the most in the NFL since the current playoff formula was established in 1990. This season marks the seventh straight year that the Patriots will host a divisional game, adding to their NFL record.
The Patriots are the only team in NFL history to win 13 division titles in a 14-year span. New England quarterback Tom Brady has 22 career playoff wins, the most in NFL history. Brady is also the NFL postseason leader in career completions (738), attempts (1,183), passing yards (7,957) and touchdown passes (56).
Brady did not play in the Week 3 matchup between the Texans and Patriots because he was serving the third game of a four-game suspension to start the season. In the 12 regular-season games he did play, he was of MVP caliber. Brady completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and his passer rating was 112.2.
The Patriots are seeking a berth in their sixth consecutive conference championship game, which would break a tie with the Oakland Raiders for most in NFL history.