Patriots vs Texans Preview & Free Pick [November 22nd 2020]

New England (4-5) at Houston (2-7)
When: Sunday, November 22nd, 2020
Where: NRG Stadium,
Houston, TX
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Houston -3/47

Don’t look now, but the New England Patriots are once again playing some good football as we enter Week 11 of the NFL schedule. The Pats have won two in a row and will try to make it three when they visit the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon from NRG Stadium. After dropping four straight games, New England took care of business against the hapless New York Jets before an upset win over the Baltimore Ravens as 7-point underdogs. Cam Newton has been very efficient in the two victories, going 40-of-52 for 392 yards and four combined touchdowns with a 106.7 passer rating. Bill Belichik’s crew is also running the ball more effectively, averaging 173.3 rushing yards over their last three games. The Texans are a mess right now and will once again be without starting running back David Johnson, which puts more pressure on Deshaun Watson. The quarterback has recorded 124 rushing yards over the last three games after totaling 109 in the first six.

Houston dropped to 2-7 after their most recent loss to the Cleveland Browns 10-7 but they find themselves as a favorite here. The Patriots are 11-3 SU in their last 14 games after posting consecutive wins and are 7-0 SU and 6-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last seven games on the road against teams with losing records. The Texans are coming off covering against the Browns but are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six games after an ATS win. They are also 2-8 SU and ATS in their last 10 games. Watson outdueled Tom Brady in Houston’s 28-22 win over the Pats last Dec. 1.

Sunday’s night’s win over the Ravens was the Patriots best effort of the season, controlling the Ravens offense for most of the game. They ran for 173 yards on 39 carries while chewing up the clock and keeping Lamar Jackson off the field. Running back Damien Harris produced 121 rushing yards on 22 carries to lead the team’s ground attack. Look for the Patriots to keep running this week, considering Houston’s run defense is the worst in the league with 167.4 rushing yards allowed per game. New England is third overall with 161.1 rushing yards per contest and tops in the NFL with a 52.35 rushing play percentage. The defense is ranked 13th overall (353.3) and 10th against the pass (224.1). On the injury-front, wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee surgery) and rookie offensive lineman Justin Herron (ankle) are both on the brink of returning to action after having missed the past three games each. The Patriots will host Arizona next Sunday.

It was a poor showing for Houston last week in Cleveland. Gusty winds hampered the passing game as Watson threw for 163 yards and a touchdown. The backfield recorded 90 yards on 22 carries. The Texans were forced to ride their rushing attack in the bad weather, which isn’t their strong suit. Watson went 20-of-30 without an interception, but look for them to throw more against the Patriots. The Texans are eighth in the league with a 62 pass play percentage and also eighth with 266.6 passing yards per game. The Patriots’ pass defense is ranked third-worst in terms of DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). On defense, Houston was able to limit the Browns dominant rushing attack and held them to just 10 points. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil (illness) leads a list of Texans who missed practice on Wednesday. Running back Duke Johnson (illness), wideout Kenny Stills (back), safety Michael Thomas (shoulder) and punter Bryan Anger (quad). Houston will play at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

I can’t back Houston in this one. Their only two wins of the year were against Jacksonville and New England is starting to put it together. Their rushing attack versus the worst rush defense will be the difference.

Pick: Patriots -1.5
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