What NFL experts are predicting for Sunday’s Patriots-Texans game

Deshaun Watson and the Texans dominated the Patriots defense in last season's matchup.
Deshaun Watson and the Texans dominated the Patriots defense in last season's matchup. –AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File

Let’s put it this way: Houston Texans head coach Romeo Crennel would have to keep working until he was 76 years old and put together two perfect seasons in order to break even on his coaching record.

Crennel (30-58) was, of course, thrust into the Houston job only because former head coach Bill O’Brien was an abject disaster leading a team with all the right pieces, except in the cases of coaching and personnel decisions. The best thing that could be said about O’Brien is that at least the man has a winning record. He’s 52-48. Get excited.

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Why is the Bill Belichick coaching tree so awful? And why do teams keep knocking on the door in order to capture some of the magic that has spread through Foxborough over the past 20 years? Haven’t they finally learned?

Matt Patricia still has a job (for now) with the Lions, despite a 13-27-1 career coaching record.  Joe Judge, against all odds, could take the Giants to the playoffs, if only because the NFC East is so god-awful. Remember Eric Mangini (33-47)?

Yet, by the time this NFL season ends, we’re going to hear more about teams chasing after New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, a career 11-17 over his one stint with the Denver Broncos. Brian Flores is 6-14 with the Miami Dolphins, but it’s a promising 6-14.

As a Patriots fan, why should you care? As long as you’ve got the real deal, right?

Except, when Belichick finally hangs it up, the job is going to go to someone (McDaniels?) on his staff, or one of his kids. We’ve got a pretty good idea already how well Belichick seems to groom coaches for success.

Not well, apparently.

This week’s predictions

Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times: Patriots (-2). “This is one of the hardest games of the week to peg. The Patriots (4-5) are coming off a shockingly convincing win over Baltimore that has upended the general view that the team is a disaster. Was that a one-off? Is that game, combined with a fairly close win over the Jets the week before, enough to say New England is hot? Even a blowout win in this game wouldn’t truly answer that question as the Texans (2-7) have beat only lowly Jacksonville. Deshaun Watson is so good that it’s impossible to rule out a dominant performance in which he drags his teammates kicking and screaming to victory. But that is slightly less likely than Cam Newton and the Patriots grinding out a fairly close win on the road.”

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Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Texans (+2). “Deshaun Watson makes a couple plays that Cam Newton simply can’t. In a close game, that’s the difference.”

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Texans 26, Patriots 23. “I am resolute (a.k.a. stubborn) that Deshaun Watson and Houston are better than their record. Apparently I’m not alone because Patriots, showing life off a big upset of Baltimore, and on an 8-1 run in this series, should be a bigger favorite — and were, at 2 1/2, before money on Texans bet it down to 1. Call this one a gut/hunch pick. Upset!” 

Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Patriots 22, Texans 19. “The Patriots certainly don’t have the look of a playoff contender, but it might be wise not to go to sleep on them. Their victory against the Ravens was either the result of brilliant schemes or another indication of Lamar Jackson being a one-dimensional player.”

MMQB staff: Five out of six pick the Pats.

ESPN staff: Seven out of 10 go with the Patriots.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 24, Texans 20. “The Texans are basically done, while the Patriots have won two straight to get back on track and in playoff contention. The Patriots have dominated the Texans in this series and I think they will continue that here. New England will again control the ball on the ground to win a tough, physical game.”

CBS Sports staff: Seven out of eight pick the Pats (-2).

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots (-2). “Each year there are always a few teams that made the playoffs the year before that don’t return the next season. This year in the AFC, the Patri*ts’ cheating-fueled playoff run is in danger, and the Texans’ reign atop the trash AFC South is over. Neither team will be missed.”

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Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Texans (+2.5). “I wonder if this line is an overreaction to one Patriots win, which happened in a crazy rainstorm. They looked great against the Ravens. The week before that, they were a 2-5 team that needed a big fourth-quarter comeback to beat the awful Jets. I want to see the Patriots do it again.”

Michael Hurley CBS Boston: Patriots (-2.5). “Disrespectful line. The Texans stink. Show some respect.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 27, Texans 24. “The Texans are terrible against the run. The Patriots will remain a run-heavy offense with Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, Cam Newton and whoever else. Deshaun Watson can give a strong response after his weather-related clunker in Cleveland, thanks to Will Fuller and former Patriot Brandin Cooks. But look for Bill Belichick to get the better of his former defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel.”

Bill Bender, Sporting News: Patriots 23, Texans 19. “Don’t look now, but the Patriots have won back-to-back games and could make a second-half AFC playoff push. Cam Newton hasn’t thrown an interception in three games, and if that trend continues New England will stay in the hunt.”

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 23, Texans 14. “New England may not make it to the playoffs, but the road won’t end against an overmatched Houston team.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 27, Texans 17. “Don’t count the Patriots out of the playoff race just yet. They shouldn’t have too much trouble against a bad Texans team.”

Five Thirty Eight: Patriots, 59 percent (-2.5).

Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Patriots 31, Texans 27. “The Texans rank dead last in run defense and turnovers forced, which is a bad recipe against a diverse, peaking New England rushing attack led by Damien Harris. The Patriots didn’t turn the ball over and didn’t need to throw much during their two-game winning streak. They should be able to replicate that in this reunion with old pal Romeo Crennel.”

NFL Pickwatch: Seventy-nine percent pick the Patriots.

It says here: Patriots 31, Texans 17. Maybe the Cardinals will slow the momentum next week. But the Texans Please.

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