Going against the New England Patriots (2–0) as home underdogs versus the Houston Texans (2–0) might seem like a can’t-win situation, with the Texans listed as a 2.5-point betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
But the Patriots would not be underdogs if quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could start the Thursday Night Football matchup over rookie Jacoby Brissett.
Garoppolo’s shoulder injury suffered last week has altered the odds of this game. Brissett simply does not have anywhere near the same amount of NFL experience as Garoppolo, who sat behind starter Tom Brady for two years before getting the nod because of Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in the Deflategate scandal.
Garoppolo played great early on in a 31–24 home win over the Miami Dolphins before being forced to leave following a hit by linebacker Kiko Alonso in the second quarter.
New England has gone 10–1 against the spread in its last 11 games as a home underdog, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. And the team has also covered the number in five of the past six meetings with the Texans, who will look to stay perfect themselves behind quarterback Brock Osweiler.
A former starting signal-caller for the Denver Broncos, Osweiler handed the Pats their first loss a year ago when he replaced Peyton Manning.
Houston may not have many favorable betting trends, if any, against New England, but the big advantage the team does possess begins and ends with Osweiler. The Pats obviously cannot count on Brady to bail them out against the Texans, nor Garoppolo.
Instead, the pressure will be on Brissett to play his best and manage the game without turning the ball over, which is also exactly what the Broncos wanted from Osweiler.
Osweiler chose instead to sign with the Texans for $72 million over four years so he could be his own man and not have to fill the shoes of Manning. He will have the opportunity to hand New England its first loss for the second year in a row and will try to end a six-game non-cover skid for the team on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are 9–3 straight up in their last 12 games against teams with winning records and would love nothing more than to head into their fourth game without Brady at 3–0.