The Week 13 Sunday Night Football matchup features another battle of division leaders. The New England Patriots (10-1, first in AFC East) hit the road to take on the Houston Texans (7-4, first in AFC South) at NRG Stadium. Below, we make our picks for the moneyline, spread and over/under between the Patriots and Texans while also digging for the best prop bet at DraftKings Sportsbook or FanDuel Sportsbook. Actionable sports betting advice for each bet type will be provided as either a “pick” or a “lean”. Picks can be made at any point through the week based on the advantages in the matchup. The odds and lines at the time of publishing may be best. Leans are reserved for lines expected to move through the week based on injuries or betting action at the sportsbooks.
The Patriots are playing out the stretch run looking to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home-field advantage through the playoffs. The Texans will lose their solo hold on first place in the AFC South with a loss Sunday, as the Tennessee Titans (6-5) and Indianapolis Colts (6-5) meet in a head-to-head battle. The winner will move into an unexpected tie with the Texans atop the division.
While researching for your Patriots and Texans picks, be sure to check out my Sunday Night Football Preview at TheLines. It breaks down the statistical and betting trends of both teams and highlights the key on-field matchups.
Patriots at Texans picks: Moneyline
The Patriots have dominated the Texans by winning each of the last eight head-to-head meetings dating back to Jan. 3, 2010. In all, the Patriots have won 10 of the 11 games since the inception of the Texans franchise, including two postseason encounters in 2013 and 2017. Each of the last four meetings were played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The Texans are 4-1 at home while the Patriots are 5-1 on the road. The teams have just one shared opponent, with the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (9-2) easily disposing of both. The Pats have won two straight games, including last week’s 13-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Texans beat the Colts 20-17 on Thursday Night Football and come in with the rest advantage.
Houston ranks seventh in the NFL with 381.6 total yards of offense per game. It’s 10th with 24.1 points per game while New England is fifth with 27.3 PPG but 17th with an average of 352.8 total yards of offense. Defensively, the Patriots are allowing a league-low 10.6 PPG to their opponents while only the San Francisco 49ers allow fewer total yards and passing yards. The Texans are 17th by points allowed (22.6) and 20th by total yards allowed per game (367.3). The Pats’ plus-19 turnover differential leads the league. The Texans are neutral.
The Ravens built the blueprint for slowing down Texans QB and (former) MVP candidate Deshaun Watson, holding him to 169 passing yards and no touchdowns two weeks ago. Patriots CB – and Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner – Stephon Gilmore will make it a long night for WR DeAndre Hopkins. The Patriots will force the Texans into enough mistakes to come away with the road victory.
The Pick: Patriots -167 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Patriots at Texans picks: Against the spread
The Patriots are favored by either -3 (DraftKings) or -3.5 (FanDuel) as of Wednesday night. The -3 matches the Patriots’ smallest spread of the season. Houston closed as the underdog in six of its 11 games on spreads ranging from +1 to +7, it is 5-6 against the spread on the year but has lost two straight. New England is 7-4 ATS but it fell two points shy of the cover on a line of -5.5 against the Cowboys.
The last two Patriots’ wins (2017 and 2018) were each decided by just three points. The Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last five games against AFC opponents and 1-5 ATS against teams with a winning record. Bill O’Brien has guided the Texans to a 9-7 ATS record with a rest advantage since taking over as head coach in 2014. Bill Belichick has a 10-7-1 ATS record with a rest disadvantage over the same time period. The Patriots, who cover the spread by an average of 6.2 points per game, get it done again on SNF with a win by at least four points.
The Pick: Patriots -3.5 (-105 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Patriots at Texans picks: Over/Under
FanDuel has the total set at 44.5 while DraftKings lists it at 45.5. The juice is on the Over at FanDuel with equal odds on either side at DraftKings. Both teams have preferred lower scores with New England 3-8 against the Over/Under and Houston 4-7. The Pats fall an average of 6.4 points shy of the projections with the Texans averaging two points fewer than the listing.
The Texans’ implied team total of 21 points is more than the Patriots have allowed in all but one game. Houston has allowed 30 or more points four times but New England hasn’t topped 30 points in four straight games. With Gilmore able to take away Hopkins as the Texans’ No. 1 threat and New England allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game, this one falls comfortably below the total. Wait until closer to game time as the primetime spot draws in bets on the Over and take the Under.
The Lean: UNDER 45.5 (-110 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
Sunday Night Football best bet
Winning Margin: New England Patriots by 1-13 Pts (+145 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
The last two head-to-head games were decided by just three points. The Patriots didn’t beat any of their three November opponents by more than seven points and the Texans have lost by more than one score just once this season. New England has won by an average of 16.6 points per game, but the number is propped up by early-season routs of the Pittsburgh Steelers (33-3) and Miami Dolphins (43-0).
This is the best value in a game where we expect the favorites to win outright and cover the spread. The 1-13 margin helps hedge against the spread and also checks out with our lean to the Under.