Each week Zac Hirschbeck will look at the betting odds for each NFL game and then share his pick for each matchup. While hopefully it goes without saying, please don’t hold him accountable if you gamble away your retirement savings or child’s college fund based on his picks.
Here are his thoughts on tonight’s game, which sees the New England Patriots (2-0) host the Houston Texans (2-0)
Houston Texas (-1.5) at New England Patriots
On paper, the Texans look to be in great shape heading into tonight’s matchup. While the quality of their opponents hasn’t been stellar by any means (Chicago and a beat-up Chiefs team), they’ve jumped out to a 2-0 record and sit as clear favorites moving forward in the AFC South. The assets they surrendered in the offseason to improve their offense, be it through big free-agent deals or high draft picks, have paid off thus far. Their defense, which is led by a strong front seven, ranks in the top five in nearly every statistical category through two games. Perhaps most encouraging of all when considering their chances in Week 3, they are playing the Patriots at what seems like the most opportune time possible.
With Jimmy Garoppolo listed as doubtful due to the shoulder injury that he suffered against Miami in Week 2, New England will turn to rookie third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett against the Texans. Brissett, who was selected in the third round of April’s draft by the Patriots, went 6-for-9 for 92 yards through the air, and added 12 yards on four carries in relief of Garoppolo. Although pre-draft scouting reports suggest that Brissett may possess the physical tools to one day become an NFL starter, it’s a big ask for him to effectively operate New England’s offense against one of the league’s better defenses. Even with the encouraging news that Rob Gronkowski may suit up for his appearance of the 2016 season, Brissett could be in for a long night in his first career start, especially with fewer days than normal to prepare.
With that being said, there is a staggering amount of evidence suggesting that it’s foolish to bet against New England when they’re home underdogs. Here are a few statistics that stand out:
1. Since the start of the 2002 season, which was the year after Brady and Belichick’s first Super Bowl title, the Patriots have been home underdogs five times. New England has won four of those games straight-up.
2. Since 2008, the Patriots haven’t lost a home primetime game to an AFC team. They have compiled an 11-0 record during that span.
3. Lastly, since 2009, the Patriots are 28-0 straight up at home against non-divisional AFC teams.
While Houston’s start to the season has certainly been a promising one, and I still like the Texans to win the AFC South, it’s hard to bet against that kind of history.
Pick: New England (+1.5)