Houston Texans at New England Patriots (Pick, 40.5)
Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien likely isn’t going to shed a tear for the plight of former boss Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, who are expected to start third-round rookie Jacoby Brissett in Thursday’s game at Foxborough, Mass. After enduring the round and round of their own quarterback carousel last year, the Texans have welcomed the stability afforded by pricey offseason acquisition Brock Osweiler while the Patriots have shuffled signal callers in the wake of Tom Brady’s suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder injury.
“When Jacoby went in there (Sunday), I thought he handled the game really well, good poise,” O’Brien said of Brissett, who completed 6-of-9 passes for 92 yards in Sunday’s 31-24 victory over Miami. “We will continue to study. We will work hard, just like they are working hard, and try to do the best we can to put together a good game plan.” Defense has been the name of the game for Houston, which has yielded just 26 points (NFL third-best), 274.5 yards allowed (third-best) and 178.5 passing yards (fourth-best). Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt collected 1.5 sacks in a 19-12 triumph over Kansas City on Sunday and linebacker Whitney Mercilus has two this season and 17 in his last 14 games overall.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network.
LINE HISTORY: The Patriots opened this AFC matchup as 2.5-point home pups and despite the uncertainty at quarterback, bettors have moved this game back to a Pick’em. The total opened at 40.5 and has yet to move off that number. Check out the complete line history here.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Texans (-1) – Patritos (-0.5) + home field (-3) = Patriots -2.5
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a beautiful night for football in Foxborough. The forecast is calling for clear skies and temperatures in the mid 60’s for the Thursday nighter.
Texans – P S. Lechler (probable Thursday, back), T D. Newton (questionable Thursday, knee), G J. Allen (questionable Thursday, calf), WR B. Miller (doutbful Thursday, hamstring), LB B. Cushing (out Thursday, knee).
Patriots – LB J. Freeny (questionable Thursday, shoulder), DL T. Flowers (questionable Thursday, shoulder), TE R. Gronkowski (questionable Thursday, hamstring), G J. Cooper (questionable Thursday, foot), LB D. Hightower (questionable Thursday, knee), QB J. Garappolo (questionable Thursday, shoulder), TE A. Darby (questionable Thursday, undisclosed), CB E. Rowe (doubtful Thursday, ankle).
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “The Texans enter off a huge win, a 19-12 victory over Kansas City last Sunday. In the process they avenged a humiliating 30-0 home playoff loss to the Chiefs last season. They must now travel to Foxborough on short rest to take on a team that is 27-2 SU in their last 29 home games and they are favored to so so. No thanks. Pats or pass.” – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence.
ABOUT THE TEXANS (2-0, 2-0 ATS, 0-2 O/U): Signed to a four-year, $72 million contract in the offseason, Osweiler has overcome a first-quarter interception in both games this season to build his rapport with Pro Bowl selection DeAndre Hopkins and first-round rookie Will Fuller. While Hopkins leads the team with 12 receptions and two touchdowns, Fuller (club-best 211 receiving yards) has stepped up in a hurry by becoming the third wideout to start his NFL career with two straight 100-yard receiving games. Lamar Miller gives O’Brien a constant presence in the backfield, as the offseason acquisition’s 53 carries are second only to Pittsburgh’s DeAngelo Williams (58) for most in the league.
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (2-0, 2-0 ATS, 1-1 O/U): While Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) has yet to make his season debut, fellow tight end Martellus Bennett has made his mark since being acquired from Chicago in March. The nine-year veteran has played on all but two offensive snaps over the first two games and reeled in a 20-yard touchdown on Sunday. Bruising running back LeGarrette Blount has rolled up 193 yards and two touchdowns this season, but exited a 27-6 victory over Houston on Dec. 13 last season with a hip ailment that landed him on injured reserve.
* Texans are 0-6 ATS in their last six Thursday games.
* Home team is 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Over is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.
* Over is 4-0 in Texans’ last four Thursday games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors are backing the team minus the quarterback issues in this AFC matchup, with 55 percent of wagers on the Texans. As for the total, 56 percent of bettors are taking the Over in this spot.
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