The market suggests that this is a one-horse race but if the Texans survive the early onslaught, they could spring a surprise...
It would be easy for me to sit here and say that the Patriots are nailed on for this match, and to advise you to fill your boots with the 1.261/4 for an outright New England win. But that would be pretty lazy, no value and a very short column: so I've been searching for reasons why the Texans have a shout.
I've actually convinced myself that they do have a legitimate squeak and that's despite the fact that back in week 14 New England dominated Houston in a 42-12 blowout.
Well they did and they didn't. Even though Tom Brady had a field day stats-wise I was still impressed with the Texans secondary, as I have been all year. It's very hard to find too many big passing plays in that match or any other where a Houston defender wasn't inches away from intercepting or breaking up the play.
Add to that the fact that the Texans were really unlucky throughout the game both with the bounce of the ball and the quality of the officiating. They created two crucial forced fumbles that happened to bounce back to the Patriots (one picked up for a touchdown). They also had several dubious pass interference calls go against them. I'm not saying they were the better team, they probably weren't; but I'll be surprised if they get rolled over so easily this time.
The Pats know that this Houston defence is dangerous, especially sack-machine JJ Watt, and they'll no doubt try and confuse them and create some bad match-ups with their favourite tactic; quick no-huddle drives early doors.
If this works they could be out of sight by half time; if it doesn't they'll have a real fight on their hands, especially if Watt gets a sack or two and the Texans find a way to utilise silky running back Arian Foster.
This guy is an absolute delight to watch, finding gaps where they don't seem to exist. His WD40-like powers will be tested as he tries to escape the 325lb blubbery speedball otherwise known as Vince Wilfork. If the silky one can plot a path around the blubbery one all of a sudden possibilities open up for the Texans' passing game.
Of course the Pats have so many weapons that it's hard to see them failing to put points on the board. They were, I admit, my pre-season pick to win it all ( I didn't exactly stick my neck out); but I give the Texans a sporting chance of derailing New England's annual Superbowl run, and definitely like the look of the ten gallon hat mob with a +9.5 handicap head start.