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Texans can make life uncomfortable for the Patriots

Super Bowl favourites may not have it all their own way

Tom Brady struggled the last time he face Houston
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Best handicap bet
Houston +14 at New England
There will have been relief in the New England camp after the Patriots got back to winning ways with a victory in New Orleans last week, but they will not need long memories to recall that they could be in for a tough game against Houston.

The Texans recovered from a drubbing by Jacksonville by beating an admittedly weak Cincinnati but their defence remains a strength and they are capable of causing problems for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady had a tough time last season when New England claimed a 34-16 win over Houston in the divisional round.

That scoreline was not a fair reflection of the pressure the Texans exerted as Brady completed just 47 per cent of his passes - his worst showing in 34 playoff appearances.

Houston have struggled offensively and rookie DeShaun Watson was given his first start in the win over the Bengals. That was a Thursday night game so the Texans, who will be without suspended linebacker Brian Cushing, have had the benefit of three extra days to prepare.

The Patriots covered the handicap in 12 of their 16 regular-season matches last season and in nine of their last ten matches, but the line for this one looks to be on the high side.

Bill Belichick's outfit are the better team - they are probably the strongest in the league - but the Texans are capable of putting in a strong show and could stay within two touchdowns if their defence perform as they did at Foxborough in January. 

Next best
New Orleans +5.5 at Carolina
Carolina have begun the season in fine fettle but some context has to be provided to their victories over the weak offences of San Francisco and Buffalo.

The Panthers have yet to concede a touchdown this season, but there are questions to answer on the other side of the ball.

Quarterback Cam Newton looks shaky after summer shoulder surgery - hearts were in mouths when he went down injured before recovering against the Bills last week - and his level of comfort will not be aided by the loss of one of his favourite targets.

Tight end Greg Olsen broke his foot in their 9-3 win over Buffalo and will be out for action for six weeks.

Carolina have one of the toughest defences in the league but they have still to demonstrate that they are anywhere near the heights they reached two years ago when they won 15 regular-season matches.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the league's most prolific passer, can provide them with plenty of food for thought.

New Orleans have ground to make up after starting their season with two defeats and that gives greater importance to their first NFC South clash of the campaign.

Best total-points bet
Under 46.5 points in Cincinnati at Green Bay
Cincinnati's start to the campaign has been a disaster as they have scored just nine points in their opening two games, which was enough to see offensive coordinator Ken Zampese sacked last week.

Quarterback Andy Dalton has endured a desperate struggle and it is difficult to see them making much of an impression at Green Bay.

The Packers were beaten at Atlanta last week and did enough to claim a valuable win over Seattle in their opener.

That 17-9 game was the fifth time in the last seven games at Lambeau Field that the visitors had failed to score more than 13 points. Unless there is some dramatic unforeseen improvement from the Bengals, the Packers - who have injury worries in their receiving unit - won't need many scores to claim victory.

Best player bet
CJ Anderson to score a touchdown
Buffalo conceded 21 rushing touchdowns last season and could struggle to contain Denver's CJ Anderson this week.

Although quarterback Trevor Siemian appears to be answering his critics this season, there is still room for improvement in the Broncos' running game and Anderson looks to be stepping up to the plate.

His confidence should be boosted by the two touchdowns he scored in last week's 42-17 win over Dallas and he can claim another.

Recommendations
Houston +14
2pts 10-11 general
New Orleans +5.5
1pt 10-11 general
Under 46.5 points in Cincinnati at Green Bay
1pt 19-20 BoyleSports
CJ Anderson to score at touchdown
1pt 5-4 Sky Bet


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Cincinnati's start to the campaign has been a disaster as they have scored just nine points in their opening two games
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