Not quite how you drew it up, huh Mr. Commish? Quick look at the NFL Standings this season:
Also, a quick throwback Thursday. Hopefully the Lone Star Statesmen show up to Foxborough in these bad boys again. They were sick.
Seemingly down to a 3rd string, rookie QB against a reloaded 2-0 Texans squad. Underdogs for the 2nd time in 3 weeks, this time at home. Things are starting to stack up against Belichick and co. The Pats could, in theory, be in trouble.
Or, on second thought, does Houston still have a problem?
Let’s take it around the table and see what the BBS team thinks…
*These lines were made under the assumption Jimmy Garoppolo and Rob Gronkowski do not play*
Jacoby Brissett: Over/Under 199 yards passing?
Pete: UNDER, but just barely. I think Brissett isn't going to break 20 completions, but he is going to be relatively efficient.
Niko: Unanimously considered calm and collected, sure, but is Jacoby ready to face off against this defense on Thursday Night Football? That remains to be seen, even with the assumption he’ll be put in the absolute best position to succeed by McDaniels/Belichick. Expect a heavy dose of the running game in this one (see below). Going to go just UNDER here for the “Pied Piper.”
Jordan: OVER. While I think Jacoby isn't going to be throwing a ton, it took only 9 throws and 6 completions to reach 92 yards last week. Plus, he's got a rifle of an arm. I see him taking a few deep shots and connecting on a few.
LeGarrette Blount: Over/Under 84 yards rushing?
Pete: I am going to surprisingly say OVER here. I don't think Blount will necessarily be effective or efficient, but, if Brissett is indeed under center in a few hours, then I don't think he is going to be dropping back to pass 40 times.
Niko: I owe LeGarrette Blount an apology. Don’t lie, you probably do too. I wasn’t the only one down on him and the running game over the last season and a half looking for a supposed upgrade in the offseason. Thus far in 2016 however has been a 180-degree different song and story. Taking into account the absence of the greatest QB to have ever lived, Blount has answered the call for the young guns under center. He’s looked thoroughly rejuvenated with hurdles, stiff arms, TD dances, you name it. Not to mention, been an absolute workhouse, logging 22 and 29 carries respectively over the first two weeks of the season. For the sake of a Patriots 3-0 start, Blount has to go OVER here.
Jordan: OVER. With Jimmy being out tonight, the burden will now rest on the O-Line and Blount to help lead some sort of offensive attack against this stellar Texans front. The Pats are going to do everything they can to assure that neither Jimmy G nor Julian Edelman take a single snap under center. Thus leading to a ton of touches for LB29, who crushed it last week if I might add.
James White: Over/Under 42 yards from scrimmage?
Pete: OVER, but just barely. James White may break off for a big run or a big pass, but, like Blount, it isn't going to be pretty the entire time.
Niko: White has become the very clear second fiddle to Blount in the backfield, but I’ll go with the OVER here. Jacoby is going to need a binky at some points in this game, and I think James breaks one long.
Jordan: If there is one thing I saw with Brissett last week in his few throws, is that he has a really nice touch in the short throwing game. Making James White a prime target for the rookie QB. I expect White to be able to do something with his legs and make a big play. I'll go OVER here.
Julian Edelman: Over/Under 6.5 catches, 65 receiving yards?
Pete: UNDER on catches, OVER on yards. The only reason I am going under is because I don't think Brissett will be throwing enough to get him that many catches. With a stout defensive line featuring Watt and Clowney, Belichick would throw Brady or Garoppolo in shotgun and have them sling it around the field. However, I don't think he has that much confidence in a rookie QB.
Niko: JE11 is the heartbeat of this team, especially with Tommy B locked up. Unfortunately, it won’t come easy for Jules on Thursday. He looked just a bit out of sync with Brissett during the rook’s limited stint Sunday afternoon. I’m going to go just barely UNDER on both of these marks.
Jordan: OVER. Brissett tried to throw to Edelman a lot on third downs in his brief segment last weekend. He obviously will use and abuse Jules tonight, so I can see Edelman having a big game.
Rob Gronkowski: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 65 receiving yards?
Pete: OVER on both. This is Gronk's first game back. YO SO FIESTA.
Niko: OVER. It's F'ing Gronk.
Brock Osweiler: Over/Under 249 yards passing?
Pete: Unfortunately, the Patriots showed me nothing last week to think that they will limit Brock Osweiler. The Pats desperately need to get to Osweiler and make him uncomfortable, but I am going to go OVER.
Niko: Pats need their secondary to bounce back in a huge way this weekend against some very talented receivers. That starts with the pass rush. I think both bounce back. UNDER, but it’ll be close.
Jordan: The Pats need to step up on defense this week. And it seems like the defense always rises to the occasion when they absolutely have to. I'll go UNDER on Brock.
Lamar Miller: Over/Under 84 yards rushing?
Pete: UNDER. I think the Texans are going to try and test this secondary and sling the ball all over the field.
Niko: Our old friend and ex-Miami Dolphin has had some early success in his new home, with 53 carries and 189 yards in his first two games as a Texan. The touches will be there on Sunday, but the yards won’t be. Just UNDER for Miller.
Jordan: I'll go with UNDER here as well. Lamar Miller is pretty good, but I honestly can't see him having a monster game if the Pats do indeed have their entire LB core and a solid inside presence on the D-Line.
DeAndre Hopkins: Over/under 6.5 catches, 89 receiving yards?
Pete: UNDER on catches, OVER on receiving yards. DeAndre Hopkins is going to have a big day, but it may just be a play or two that makes his number jump out to you. If the Pats throw Malcolm Butler on Hopkins and tell him to run around the field with him all game, then this is going to be a long day at the office.
Niko: Hopkins was held to 3 catches (on 6 targets) for 52 yards last season by this Patriot secondary, and while I don’t think he’ll be quite that quiet on Thursday night, I also don’t think he’ll hit these marks. UNDER on both.
Jordan: Depends on the matchup, I'll go with OVER on both here because Hopkins is a monster and is a mismatch against both Butler and Logan Ryan. Expect to see a TD tonight.
Will Fuller: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 69 receiving yards?
Pete: For the love of God, please be UNDER. I just traded Fuller off of my fantasy team and am hoping it doesn't bite me in the ass. In all seriousness, I think Fuller will have a decent game, but drops have plagued the Notre Dame product his entire football career. If the Pats can put pressure on Osweiler early, I think you can eliminate Fuller.
Niko: The first round rookie out of Notre Dame looks like a stud, putting up huge numbers in his first two career games (9 receptions, 211 yards). They appear to have their threat opposite Hopkins, and with the assumption stopping DeAndre is priority #1 for Patricia/BB, Fuller will reap the benefits. OVER on both.
Jordan: Again, going with OVER here. Fuller is on absolute fire to begin his NFL career and can see him having a big play tonight as well.
JJ Watt: Over/Under .5 sack (s)?
Pete: A LITTLE BIT OF DEFENSE BABY!!! Watts has been a shell of himself in his four games against the New England Patriots. While his personal numbers are nothing to gloat about, the Texans are also 0-4 in games in which JJ Watt plays against the Pats. I hope that continues. UNDER.
Niko: In four career games against the Pats, JJ has totaled just this: half a sack, far below what you’d expect from a guy who works out so hard, with so many commercials like him… I say the Pats keep him at bay again. UNDER.
Jordan: I'll go with OVER here. Watt is just a beast and I see him getting to Brissett at some point tonight.
Pete: It has to be the Houston's defensive line against whatever quarterback the Patriots decide to throw out there. Will Jimmy G play at all? Can Jacoby Brissett be effective? Is Julian Edelman really going to be the backup quarterback?
Niko: I know, I know, it’s the easy way out, but I’m going with Patriots O-line vs. Texans Pass Rush. It’s even more critical this week with a rookie QB, and the strength of Houston’s front 7. I’ll give you a few names other than JJ Watt to keep an eye on as guys who could give the Pats major issues if they get going: outside linebackers Whitney Mercilus (12 sacks last season, 2 thus far this year) and 2014 first overall pick Jadaveon Clowney, who seems to be ready to scratch the surface of his potential this year. Keeping those two in check will be critical.
Jordan: My key matchup for tonight is Blount vs. the Texans front seven. If Blount can make quick decisions behind the line of scrimmage, he's going to be HUGE tonight. If he can't, the Pats offense may be in trouble.
Pete: My bold prediction is that this is an extremely low-scoring game. I am talking about a game in the teens. Defenses are going to run rampant in this game and give us a throwback to some old-fashioned smash-mouth football.
Niko: A couple times a year, the Patriots hit us with some well-thought out, typically scarily effective trick play(s) (ala 2014-2015 playoffs vs. Ravens, Philly game last season). Down to their 3rd QB and seemingly cornered, I say we see another monster one on Thursday night for a big gain.
Jordan: The Patriots shock us all and come out guns blazing with a high octane air attack on Houston tonight. Brissett erupts for 250+ yards throwing, plus 20 on the ground and has 2 total TDs.
Game Total: Over/Under 40.5?
Pete: UNDER. Read above.
Niko: UNDER. D up, baby. Can’t see this being too pretty, either way.
Jordan: UNDER. I don't know how I like the Pats' chances in a high scoring affair with a rookie QB.
Final Prediction (NE+1.5):
Pete: I don't know, man. We have been doing these roundtables for two years and I have never bet against the Patriots. And you know what? That streak is not going to be broken today. The Patriots are going to win this game 17-9 and show the NFL that they have one of the best defenses in the NFL. WHERE'S THE BEEF?
Niko: 20-17 Pats. Big effort from the defense and running game. Don’t care who does it, just want it done. Rinse. Repeat. We’re onto Houston, and it won’t be the only time this year.
Jordan: If the Pats win tonight, I can see them easily going 14-2. I'll take the conservative 23-14 Pats win.