Here’s what experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Texans game

"The Patriots know they have no margin for error, not with the Ravens still hot on their heels."

Bill Belichick makes a point to an official.
Bill Belichick makes a point to an official. –Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The record for most kickers employed in an NFL season probably isn’t a stat that is readily available, frankly because nobody has ever cared.

But now that the Patriots are on their fourth, it makes you wonder.

Kai Forbath is the latest placekicker to join New England, slated to take the duties when the Patriots face the Houston Texans on Sunday at 8:20 p.m. Nick Folk, who replaced Mike Nugent, who replaced Stephen Gostkowski, underwent an appendectomy Thursday morning. Happy Thanksgiving.

We know four isn’t a record for an entire season, considering the New York Jets had four kickers pass through by the time September had even ended. But has such inconsistency ever been an issue for a 10-1 team like the Patriots?


There’s going to be a pivotal kicking situation coming up during the last month of the season or the playoffs, and Bill Belichick is going to have to balance the odds of an underperforming offense against Nick Folk/Kai Forbath.

Or, perhaps a fifth or sixth name by that point.

This week’s predictions

John McClain, Houston Chronicle: Patriots 23, Texans 17. “The Patriots’ are the Texans’ third — and last — game in prime time this regular season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has a 5-2 record in prime-time games, including 1-1 this season — a 30-28 loss at New Orleans and a 20-17 victory over Indianapolis.”

Joe Giglio, Patriots (-3.5). “The Patriots are allowing eight points per game to every team not named the Baltimore Ravens. The (Texans) are good, but they are not the Ravens.”

ESPN staff: Eight out of 10 pick the Patriots.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 23, Texans 14. “The Patriots are struggling on offense, but you would think they would get it going at some point. Is this the game? I think it is to some degree. The highlight here, though, will be Deshaun Watson against that New England defense, which has been outstanding. Look for the Pats to slow Watson and win a tough road game.”


CBS Sports staff: Seven out of eight take the Pats (-3). Everybody likes the Pats straight-up.

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots (-3). “The Patri*ts have struggled with quarterbacks who can do damage with their legs, but since Bill O’Brien became the Texans’ head coach, he has never beaten Bill Belichick (0-5), and I’m not sure why that should change this week.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 31, Texans 20. “The Patriots are 10-1 against the Texans since the latter team entered the league in 2002. In four meetings since 2015, Bill Belichick’s team has beaten former New England offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien’s team five consecutive times with an average margin of victory of more than 15 points. Although the past two games have been closer because of Deshaun Watson, he has had issues with tougher defenses. Tom Brady has a much easier matchup against a reeling secondary, and with more trust in his remixed receivers, he’ll have a vintage game.”

Tadd Haislop, Sporting News: Patriots 23, Texans 20. “In some seasons, a game like this might be an upset alert, as the Patriots typically suffer a few losses that make observers doubt whether they’re true Super Bowl contenders. Yet New England is 10-1 thanks to its league-best scoring defense, a unit that is capable of containing MVP-caliber quarterbacks not named Lamar Jackson. Deshaun Watson will make his share of plays as usual; just not enough of them.”

MassLive staff picks: All Pats. “With half for the Patriots battling illness, is this the time Bill O’Brien finally solves Bill Belichick?”


Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 21, Texans 17. “The Patriots know they have no margin for error, not with the Ravens still hot on their heels. Meanwhile, Bill O’Brien has never beaten Bill Belichick.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 24, Texans 13. “Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore is leading one of the best pass defenses we’ve ever seen in the NFL, and Deshaun Watson is going to struggle against them.”

Five Thirty Eight: Patriots, 60 percent (-2.5).

Gregg Rosenthal, Patriots 27, Texans 24. “There were signs last Sunday, glimpsed through the sideways rain, that the Patriots‘ offense can turn a corner. Sony Michel saw more running room than he has all season because of an offensive line buoyed by the return of tackle Isaiah WynnTom Brady played well and would have finished with a better line than 17 of 37 for 190 yards and a touchdown if not for six drops on a wet day, while rookie receivers Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry are making an impact. After three nasty-weather games in the previous four, the Patriots should be thrilled to play indoors against old pal Romeo Crennel and his star-free defense. This figures to be a game in which Brady needs to score, because Deshaun Watson and the multi-dimensional Texans running attack could expose New England’s team speed in a Sunday Night classic Al Michaels has been waiting for. Look for Brady to be up to the task.”

It says here: Patriots 17, Texans 3. There’s every reason to believe this could be an upset win for the Texans, but the letter jacket chill won’t go away.

Video: Can the Patriots’ offense click in good conditions?