New England Patriots at Houston Texans
Kickoff: 5:20 p.m. PT
It was maybe as soon as Week 3 of the 2017 season when Deshaun Watson really solidified himself as one of the game’s rapidly-ascending young stars at the quarterback position. Even despite it being just his third career game.
On that Sunday afternoon, Watson faced the mighty Patriots and crafted a superb performance in what turned out to be one of the better shootouts in recent memory, albeit in a 36-33 defeat.
Watson wasn’t as sharp last year in his other encounter opposite New England, a 27-20 loss in the season opener, but in his defense, that was Watson’s first regular-season game after suffering a torn ACL that wiped out the majority of his freshman campaign.
There was a common theme in both of those meetings and one I anticipate continuing in this Sunday Night Football affair: they each featured a healthy amount of scoring, all going over the total, too.
Watson can certainly play the part once again. The former Clemson Tiger has enjoyed more success this season in registering a 103.4 passer rating, ranking eighth-best in all of football.
Interestingly, Watson has never concluded a year with a rating below 103. And he’ll actually be in a spot to keep it going considering this is a game in Houston and in prime time.
This is notable because Watson’s career passer rating at home (107.6) is significantly superior to his mark (98.7) on the road. Such excellent work at Reliant Stadium has translated into high scoring totals, as Watson has put up a whopping 29.8 points per game in his 16 career home starts.
Over backers should also appreciate that Watson will be playing in prime time. In his seven games at night in the NFL, the Houston signal-caller holds an outstanding 118.6 (!) passer rating and an 18-3 TD/INT ratio. That may not bode well for a Patriots defense that appears to be equipped at less than 100 percent health with the flu bug going around. And Watson has a very good supporting cast around him, of course.
He’s going against ol’ reliable Tom Brady, who is still as dependable as any out there. Though his passer rating (88.5) is the lowest its been in six years, this is someone that’s still one of the elite QBs in the league despite his old age.
One key item that can ensure a throwback performance from Brady is that this contest will be held indoors. In 21 games (regular season) in such an environment, he’s composed a 105.6 passer rating to go along with 44 touchdowns.
I’m mad I didn’t decide on this game until after the slight movement with the over/under, so I’m buying a full point to get it on that main key number of 45. Rarely do I recommend a -130 move but that’s the value of getting it on arguably the most important number in totals. Play: OVER 45 (-130)
Last Week’s Result: Lions-Redskins Under 41 (WIN) This Week So Far: Saints-Falcons Over 48 (“loss”) Zylbert’s 2019 NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 8-6, +0.8 unit
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit