Sunday NFL Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Texans vs. Patriots Preview
Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images. Pictured: Mac Jones.
- The Patriots are a road favorite over the Texans on Sunday afternoon with both teams coming off losses.
- Rookie quarterbacks have struggled to cover the spread, but what happens when they face each other? With Mac Jones and Davis Mills under center, oddsmakers give the Pats a pretty big edge.
- Find the full Patriots vs. Texans odds below in our analyst's preview to betting this NFL Week 5 matchup below.
Patriots vs. Texans Odds
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
Will Houston score any points? Can Mac Jones win his second road game? How can we bet this train wreck of a game?
New England’s Defense Off To Strong Start
We got an A-plus performance from this New England defense on Sunday night against the Buccaneers.
The Patriots held Brady well below his season average in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play and Completion Percentage Over Expectation (CPOE), and a Tampa Bay offense that was scoring at will this season was suddenly grounded. Some of that was certainly weather related, as Brady had multiple overthrows to receivers who were open, but credit is given where credit is due.
New England has played solid defense up to this point in the season. The Patriots secondary has held up pretty well despite missing cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was traded to the Panthers this week. Free agent signing Jalen Mills, as well as the ascending Kyle Dugger, have boosted the backend of this defense that had question marks going into the season after an uncharacteristic 2020.
The New England run defense needs to improve, though. The Pats rank in the bottom six in rush EPA pre play and success rate allowed. In the modern NFL, though, if you wanted to pick one spot to have a weakness defensively, you’d prefer it be against the rush than the pass.
While it doesn’t apply this week against a horrible offense, New England’s defensive performance going forward is something to watch. This team has played three below-average offenses in the Dolphins, Jets and Saints, before getting a matchup against Tampa Bay in terrible weather. Only four teams have played a weaker slate of offenses than New England.
While the Pats pass defense has been sturdy, it’s by no means guaranteed that this is a good unit. Dallas comes to Foxborough in Week 6 for a matchup that will give us a better idea of just how good the New England secondary is.
New England’s Offense Needs to Catch Up
The offense has gotten more attention this season with Jones under center.
The first-round pick out of Alabama has been the least bad of the rookie QB crop so far in terms of production, but this offense is still struggling. The Patriots are one of seven teams this season to have a negative EPA/play when passing, meaning they are losing win probability each time they drop back. Not great!
This is not all Jones’ fault. The weapons are suspect, and the play-calling has been ultra conservative in general. Jones ranks in the bottom five in Air Yards since New England isn’t asking him to do much within the offense.
Even the rushing offense, which was elite last season, hasn’t performed at that level.
Jones should continue to improve as the season goes on, but this offense is extremely limited upside wise.
The Texans Offense is a Hot Mess
There really isn’t much to say about the state of the Texans offense.
Mills is not ready to be playing meaningful snaps. He may be a good quarterback one day, but on this team with this level of talent and coaching around him, he’s doomed for failure.
The level of competition in his first two and a half games — coming in for an injured Tyrod Taylor in Cleveland then starting against Carolina and Buffalo — hasn’t done him any favors.
The Texans aren’t getting much going on the ground either as teams stack the box and don’t respect Mills. The Texans are second to last in EPA/rush and Rush Success Rate. The quality of defenses they’ve faced plays a big part in that but outside of Laremy Tunsil at left tackle, this is not a good offensive line either.
Texans Defense is Bad, But Better Than Offense
One thing I will note is that Houston’s defense is not the worst in the league. A positive!
But this unit that was widely expected to be the worst has not been so far. Houston stymied Jacksonville, for the most part, in Week 1 and kept Cleveland and Carolina somewhat at bay.
Yes, the Texans gave up 40 to the Bills, but they were on the field for 40 minutes in that game. Buffalo went just 3-for-7 in the red zone, which means it could have been worse.
The Texans secondary that will be out there against the Patriots is going to be better than what Tampa had after all of the injuries. It’s shocking to say that, but Richard Sherman (fresh off the street) and Pierre Desir do not make up an NFL-caliber cornerback duo in 2021. The Texans have some decent veteran options at that position in Terrance Mitchell and Desmond King.
The Texans pass rush is non-existent, ranking last in pressure rate, but New England will be without left tackle Isaiah Wynn, left guard Michael Onwenu and likely right tackle Trent Brown on Sunday. Right guard Shaq Mason didn’t practice on Thursday either, but I’m assuming he’ll play.
Even if Mason does suit up, the Patriots offensive line is now a mess. I’d imagine New England will play conservatively and get the ball out quick like it has been doing. If Jones holds the ball for too long, maybe Houston’s pass rush can come to life.
This game is disgusting, and there are plenty of other options to bet this weekend. Maybe do something else with your Sunday if you were considering watching this game in full — unless you are a Patriots fan. If you’re a Texans fan, watch the Astros instead.
That being said, I think the handicap here is fairly simple. Bill Belichick has absolutely stymied rookie QBs over the course of his career, and he made Zach Wilson’s life miserable in Week 2.
Mills is worse than Wilson, as is the scheme and talent around him. I don’t have high expectations for this Houston offense, and its team total of 14.5 reflects a similar sentiment.
Where there may be an edge here is the matchup between New England’s offense and Houston’s defense.
The Patriots offense is quite poor as is, and they could be missing four starters on the line on Sunday. The game plan will likely be even more conservative than usual, and New England will have long, slow-moving drives down the field.
This total is heinously low, but it may not quite be low enough. If the Texans score points, they’re going to do so slowly, while we know how the Pats are likely to operate.
I’m backing the under here, but keeping it to one-half unit since it’s not a significant edge. If you follow along, keep it reasonable and best of luck.
Pick: Under 39.5 (play down to 37.5)