With a 70% win rate on his Matchbook Insights posts, Fabian Sommer is zoning in on a home underdog this weekend as he aims to move to 8-3 on the season!
We had a rollercoaster loss last week with the Over in the Broncos/Raiders game. We had 16 points at halftime and after 60 minutes the game landed on 49 with some big-time missed opportunities. But do you know what?
We bettors have a short memory and move on to the next week.
This column sits at 7-3 for the season and we are aiming number 8 this time.
Early in the week, bookmakers installed the New England Patriots as -2.5 favourites over the Houston Texans on the road.
Safe to say I cannot quite understand where that discrepancy is coming from.
Neither team has played overwhelmingly well this year.
The Texans only have two wins against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars to show. The coaching change from Bill O’Brien to Romeo Crennell didn’t rake all the benefits that some of the analysts had assumed in early October.
Since the bye week, the Patriots lost against the Broncos, got pummeled by the 49ers and lost a close one against the Bills in a run-heavy windy game. Two weeks ago, they almost lost against the winless Jets with Joe Flacco at quarterback. In awful weather, they beat the Ravens – who struggle massively on offense – with a run-heavy approach. Now they go on the road to face Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense in the dome, which is the key matchup to me.
Deshaun Watson is having a great season on a bad team.
Houston had a rough start against top-10 defenses like Kansas City, Baltimore and Pittsburgh – with a new offensive coordinator and a new number one receiver.
The Texans struggle to run the ball, but their passing game has been very good. On the season, they are averaging 0.20 EPA/dropback which ranks 9th. They rank 9th in pass DVOA. Since that brutal start, from week 4 to 10, they are averaging 0.28 EPA/dropback which ranks 4th behind the Falcons, Chiefs and Packers.
Deshaun Watson has the 5th-highest passing grade (82.7) and he has been elite from clean pockets (91.2).
Here are weekly opponent adjusted team tiers, as introduced last week on here (or two weeks ago in one of my articles). Now with (slightly transparent) team logos. pic.twitter.com/KmKMjUd4ZI
— Moo (@PFF_Moo) November 18, 2020
Enter New England’s defense.
There is an interesting discrepancy between their EPA and DVOA metrics.
In DVOA, the Pats rank 32nd. DVOA is more success-rate oriented and adjusts for an opponent. It puts a higher emphasis on moving the ball consistently versus high-leverage plays.
In schedule-adjusted EPA/play, the Pats rank 17th defensively. A big reason for that is turnovers.
New England is forcing 1.7 takeaways per game which ranks 3rd in the league and is responsible for huge EPA swings.
However, in EPA success rate – which measures whether a play went for positive expected points or not – they rank dead-last as well.
What does that all mean?
The Pats defense cannot stop opposing offenses on a play-by-play basis and they rely a lot on turnovers.
New England struggles to create a lot of pressure with their front seven, so there’s a decent chance that their defense will give up some scoring drives to Deshaun Watson in the dome. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore could be back this week, but that doesn’t make enough of a difference to keep me away from the Texans.
The strength of the Patriots offense is their run game.
They rank top-2 in efficiency metrics on the ground and below-average in terms of passing.
Cam Newton and company will absolutely find success in moving the ball on the ground against a Texans defense that got gashed between the tackles and ranks at the bottom against the run.
If the Pats defense doesn’t hold up well against Watson, they will find themselves in the scenario where they have to throw the ball a lot more than they would like to.
- Can their defense shut down the Texans offense like they did with Lamar Jackson for the most part? I doubt it.
- Can their below-average passing attack consistently beat the Texans defense to outscore Watson? I doubt it.
We’ve got two bad defenses and two offenses with different strengths.
I’m going with the better quarterback and the better passing attack in a slightly favourable matchup while getting almost 20 cents on the dollar.
- Houston Texans Moneyline +119 (2.19)