New England @ Houston
Recommended Wager: HOU +2.0
Sizing: 1 unit
New England Patriots: (Week 6 bye)
-RB Sony Michel (quad) was activated off of IR and will return week 11.
-LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (groin) was INACTIVE weeks 9 and 10. He is QUESTIONABLE after being limited all week.
-CB Stephon Gilmore (knee) was INACTIVE weeks 8 – 10. He will return week 11.
IR: WR Julian Edelman (knee – short term), WR Marqise Lee (opt out), RT Marcus Cannon (opt out), LB Dont’a Hightower (opt out), S Patrick Chung (opt out)
Houston Texans: (Week 8 bye)
-LT Laremy Tunsil (illness) is QUESTIONABLE. He did not practice all week.
-LG Senio Kelemete (concussion) was injured week 9 and INACTIVE week 10.
IR: RB David Johnson (concussion), LB Benardrick McKinney (shoulder), DE Brennan Scarlett (forearm – short term), CB Gareon Conley (ankle)
Spread watching: This line is sticking at 2.
Matchup breakdown: The Patriots offense is 22nd in both DVOA and EPA/play. Their offense is one of the most run-heavy in all of football — they rank dead last in early down pass frequency. This is typically a bad thing — it’s long since been proven that passing is more efficient then running — but New England’s rushing offense DVOA (6.8%) is much better than their passing offense DVOA (-8.7%). With a mobile quarterback, solid run blocking unit, and incredibly weak receiving core (especially without Julian Edelman), it’s nothing too surprising. To his credit, Jakobi Meyers has come on strong since being elevated to full time starter role in week 7 — his 89.7 PFF receiving grade is 3rd in the league behind just Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson. The Texans defense is 28th in DVOA and dead last in EPA/play. They truly do not have even an average player outside of JJ Watt — who still hasn’t been his normal self. The Patriots offense has either issues, but the matchup is about as good as it can get. Hopefully, the Texans have seen enough of Meyers to know that they need to dedicate resources to slowing him down.
The Texans offense is middle of the road (15th in DVOA, 14th in EPA/play). Deshaun Watson is certainly the better of the two QBs here – he ranks 5th in the NFL in PFF passing grades, completing 68.1% of his passes and gaining 8.4 yards per attempt. The offensive line is fairly weak save for Laremy Tunsil – who is questionable with an illness. In the before times, I’d expect any player with an illness to play, but 2020. The passing game revolves around Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks, while Duke Johnson will handle a good portion of the RB carries. They’re up against a Patriots defense that is dead last in 2020 in DVOA despite being first in 2019. Defenses regress, you guys. They will get back 2019 DPOY Stephon Gilmore, but in general the secondary has grossly underperformed. Though I wouldn’t expect them to hold up long term as the worst defense in the league, it’s a simply reminder about how fragile defenses can be. They also lack edge rushers who can win one on one, which makes it difficult to take advantage of the Texans offensive line.