The Patriots opened as 9.5-point favorites as they host the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs.
Let’s get past the obvious – the Pats made the Texans look like a JV squad a few weeks ago. That game happened. It’s over. The Pats don’t start out with a four-TD lead just because they won by that margin a month ago. And just because they stomped this team once does not automatically mean that they will do so again. Most folks in the media and the betting public seem to ignore these facts, but you do so at your own peril.
We know that the Patriots should be able to put a respectable number of points on the board. The Texans have a solid defense in their base package, but when you spread them out, they look more like the Jets (i.e. a hopeless bumbling mess). They also did not adjust well to New England’s up-tempo offense the first time around. However, that experience could be useful for the upcoming game and is not necessarily a precursor of things to come. Unless they Pats get a few timely turnovers or big plays on special teams, it will be difficult to get into the 40s again.
The deciding factor will be the ability of the Texans to put points on the board. The Pats’ D has held six of their last seven opponents under 20 points, and Houston has failed to put 20 points on the board in four of their last five. If those trends continue, Houston gets blown out. But given the relative good health and skill of this unit, it’s hard to imagine that happening again.
I think the Pats win this game, but I’m not laying more than a TD to any good team. I’m taking the Texans and the points.
The Rest of the Playoff Lines
Denver (-8.5) vs. Baltimore
If you’re picking a team to cover the spread on the road in the playoffs, you have to be confident that that team’s quarterback will not devolve into a steaming pile of shit. Since Joe Flacco currently ranks just a step above steaming pile of shit to begin with, I can’t get on board.
Atlanta (-2.5) vs. Seattle
The Seahawks are the darlings of the NFL right now and a trendy Super Bowl pick. You know what usually happens to trendy Super Bowl picks around this time of year? Their weaknesses are exposed when they have to play a second straight game on the road on the opposite coast, this time at 1 o’clock against a team who has a quarterback with two fully functioning knees.
Green Bay (+2.5) @ San Francisco
Aaron Rodgers>>>>>Colin Kaepernick. I understand that both teams will field a defense, and the 49ers have the advantage in that respect. But again, Aaron Rodgers. Colin Kaepernick. Don’t get me wrong, I like the kid’s future prospects. But at this stage of their careers, it's hard to get past that.