By Charles Jay
With a victory by the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the New England Patriots find themselves in a position where they will drop to the #2 seed in the AFC as soon as this evening if they can’t beat the Houston Texans, and if they aspire to do so, it’s going to entail a better offensive effort than they have shown lately.
This game will take place at NRG Stadium in Houston, starting at 8:20 PM ET, and while NBC’s televising it, you can get in on the real-time wagering action through Sports Betting Ultra at BetAnySports.
We know how much of a legend Tom Brady is, and we know that in the past he’s had a lot of weapons to work with. More importantly, he’s been able to make things happen sometimes when he’s got a shortage of weaponry. This is something strange to say about a team with a 10-1 record, but this Patriots club may be in trouble if they have to engage in trading points with opponents. They couldn’t do it against Baltimore, which beat them 37-20. And they may have to ultimately face the Ravens if they want to go to the Super Bowl.
As a team, they’ve gained just 3.3 yards per carry, and that is certainly not what offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has in mind at all. He would actually would like to strike an almost even balance between the pass and the run, but this team has not been able to do that. Between Philip Dorsey, Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu, they have receivers who are not 100%, and there is very little coming out of the tight end position. Ben Watson has eleven receptions, and as has been well publicized recently, the team was interested in bringing back Rob Gronkowski, but he declined.
So this is really not an offense operating at full capacity. They are just 24th in the NFL in yards gained per drive. As a result, Bill Belichick has had to be content with winning on the strength of his defense.
And that defense has been incredibly strong; make no mistake about it.
In the Sunday night NFL odds posted on this game, according to the people at BetAnySports, New England is the road favorite:
New England Patriots -.5 (+100)
Houston Texans +3.5 (-120)
Over 46.5 points -110
Under 46.5 points -110
By the way, you can avoid having to lay the customary -110 by getting reduced juice, which is available if you are signed up as a BetAnySports customer.
We understand that Deshaun Watson has had statistics that are more than credible, with a 69% accuracy rate and 20 touchdown passes. He has a higher quarterback rating and more yards per attempt than Brady, but he’s also a guy who has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long. New England is fully capable of taking advantage of that, as the defensive unit has 37 sacks.
Some of these numbers the Pats’ secondary has posted against opposition passers are rather remarkable. A ratio of four touchdown passes allowed against 20 interceptions defies description. And those quarterbacks New England has faced have compiled a cumulative 50.5 rating. And while largely they have not been in there with a bunch of killers, let’s not forget that on this list are the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Baker Mayfield, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott.
No team has been more difficult to score on in the red zone then Belichick’s squad. No team has been tougher on third downs, allowing only 19% conversions. And in eleven games they’ve given up nine touchdowns from scrimmage. If we put this into the perspective that we are in an offensive era, where 29 of the 32 teams pass the ball more than run it, it is almost unfathomable,
Can they bring Watson to a crawl? Well, were not so sure about that, but they can really “junk up” what he’s trying to do. Against the Eagles and Cowboys, they allowed total of 19 points. And we think that Belichick’s configuration of the secondary can throw Houston’s receivers off-balance.
Were not all that sure about the Texans’ defense, especially with the inability to rush the passer with any ferocity (only 22 sacks, including four from JJ Watt, who is injured), but we can’t get all that enthusiastic about New England’s offense. The Pats have played 16 of their last 20 regular-season games under the total, and that’s the direction we have decided to head in, as we continue with WagerWAR, the battle for the World WagerSport ultimate championship.
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