Daily Bet: Texans +5 1/2 at Patriots

The “F” word has been hurled in the direction of the Houston Texans at times this season—and by that I mean “fraud.” It’s understandable, considering the Texans’ 11-1 record includes just three victories against teams with a winning record: Broncos (back when Payton Manning had a noodle arm), Bears (who didn’t have thier starting quarterback for the entire second half) and banged-up Ravens (speaking of frauds). Oddly, few people are hurling the same “F” word in the direction of the Patriots, even though New England has defeated just two opponents with a winning record (Indianapolis and Denver, both at home) en route to its 9-3 mark. In fact, take a look at the Patriots’ victims during their current six-game winning streak: Jets (twice, including once in overtime at home), Rams (in London), Bills (by just six points at home), Colts and Dolphins.

So why is New England—whose three losses (Cardinals, Ravens, Seahawks) are much worse than
the Texans’ one loss (Packers)—getting a pass while Houston isn’t? Three words: Belichick and Brady. Problem is, neither one of those Hall of Famers plays defense—then again, I’d argue that neither do the 11 guys Belichick runs out there on a weekly basis. Oh, sure, some will be fooled into thinking that New England’s D is coming around after consecutive strong showings, allowing just 16 and 19 points in two road wins. Except those were against the Jets and Dolphins—not exactly two offensive juggernauts.

Take away those two games, and the 45-7 win over the offensively inept Rams, and New England
since Week 3 has given up 31, 28, 21, 24, 26, 31 and 24 points. On the other hand, Houston has had just four poor defensive showings this year, surrendering 25 points to the Broncos (in a game the Texans were leading 31-11 in the fourth quarter); 42 points to the Packers (a complete no show); 37 points to the Jaguars (Houston was coming off the physical Monday night win in Chicago); and 31 points to the Lions (on Thanksgiving, just four days after the exhausting game against Jacksonville).

The Texans—with Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson leading an offense that’s averaging nearly 30 points per game and supporting a defense that features a slew of Pro Bowlers —are simply the more complete team. And to be catching more than a field goal with a squad that’s 6-0 on the road and has been an underdog just once all season (the 13-6 win at Chicago as a one-point pup) is too enticing to pass up.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆

Friday’s Result: Warriors +6 at Nets (win)

Record: 70-62-1