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Houston Texans (0-0) vs. New England Patriots (0-0), Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA

NFL Week 1: Sunday, September 9, 2018

The NFL season gets underway as the Houston Texans take on the New England Patriots. This is a rematch of a fantastic game from last season when the New England Patriots won the contest in the last minute of the game on a Tom Brady touchdown pass to diffuse the Texans, 36-33.

Return of Watson, Watts Key to Texans Success

The Houston Texans suffered a nightmare of the season due to a slew of injuries, most notably two-star rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and their all-pro defensive lineman J.J. Watts. The Texans finished last season 4-12 but have looked good in the preseason, going 3-1 while allowing only 50 points in the four games.

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Houston was on fire offensively last season behind the rookie quarterback until he suffered an ACL injury that ruined the rest of his season. Watson had thrown for 1699 yards and 19 touchdowns in seven games before going down. The offense struggled behind his backup and the season quickly spiraled in the wrong direction. The loss of Watts did not help either, as he made just 15 tackles before his season games when end. The return of both of these players to their former status is a key to the success for Houston this season.

Houston was 1-7 on the road last season and 3-9 within the conference. The Texans lost their last six games of the 2017 season. They finished 20th in total yards (320.0 yards per game) offensively and were 20th defensively as well (346.6). They were 17th in points scored (21.1) but were dead last in points allowed (27.2).

Is Another Super Bowl Run in the Cards?

The New England Patriots made it all the way to the Super Bowl last season before falling to the Philadelphia Eagles. It was another spectacular season for Tom Brady, who, at 40, led his team to their seventh Super Bowl appearance during his time with the team and ninth overall.

Tom Brady may have been 40 last season, but he had one of his most productive seasons of his NFL career, throwing for 4577 yards and 32 touchdowns while throwing just eight interceptions in 581 pass attempts. Three different receivers for New England had at least 61 completions last season, and this year’s team quite possibly has a better group of receivers than the last. This could be a banner year for Brady if he is able to be as productive as he has in season’s past, something that is quite likely.

Knowing what was 13-3 last season, posting the top record in the AFC. They finished 6-2 at home and were 10-2 within the conference. They finished the season on a three-game winning streak. New England was the number one team in the NFL in terms of yards from scrimmage, averaging 394.2 yards per game and were second in points per game at 28.6. However, they were 29th in yards allowed (366.0) but were fifth defensively in points allowed it 18.5.

Trends:

Houston:

  • 5-2 ATS in their last seven September games.
  • 1-4 ATS in their last five games on the road.
  • 0-4 ATS in their last four games against the AFC.

New England:

  • 21-7 ATS in their last 28 games against the AFC.
  • 6-2 ATS in their last eight September games.
  • 34-16-2 ATS in their last 52 games at home.
  • 1-4 ATS in their last five games in Week 1.

The Winner Prediction

Watson saw limited action in the preseason, completing nine of 15 passes for 37 yards. How effective he will be will be a key to this contest, but he is likely not going to put up the same numbers against New England that he did in the 2017 contest. Therefore, it makes sense to go with a very determined Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The Pick: New England Patriots (-6.5) (-110)

The Total

There is a lot of reason to be skeptical of how successful the Houston offense will be, as Watson may not be 100%. The total was 69 points last season, with New England scoring 36 of those points. That’s probably a pretty solid number this season as well, requiring Houston to score just 15. That’s something you can count on.

The Pick: Over 51.0 (-110)

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