The New England Patriots and Houston Texans kick off their preseason action on Thursday, and this is a battle between two coaches on completely different ends of the spectrum when it comes to NFL experience.
Texans first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans will make his preseason coaching debut against Bill Belichick, one of the most respected coaches in NFL history.
Belichick has coached 60 preseason games in his NFL career.
The Texans have a lot more to find out in this game with their young team than the Patriots, and they plan on starting No. 2 overall pick CJ Stroud in this matchup.
The Patriots are taking a much more cautious approach with their starting quarterback Mac Jones, who is in his first season under offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien – a former Houston head coach.
“Based on the scout-team reps Jones took Tuesday, and based on the extensive work Bailey Zappe, Trace McSorley and Malik Cunningham received under center in practice, odds are they'll get some time and Jones will sit,” NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry wrote. “Jones did not play in the preseason opener last summer.”
Perry also mentioned that Bill Belichick said that many of the team’s veterans won’t see a lot of run in the preseason opener.
With that in mind, how should we wager on this preseason matchup?
Here’s a look at the odds and my best bet for Thursday’s action:
Texans vs. Patriots odds, spread and total
Texans vs. Patriots prediction and pick
We’re getting a gift from oddsmakers on Thursday night.
Belichick is an impressive 32-24-4 against the spread in the preseason, and now he has a chance to prepare his backups on defense against a rookie quarterback.
This could get ugly for Stroud in his first taste of an NFL game.
Meanwhile, I think this line is an overreaction to Jones not suiting up. Zappe started – and played well – at times in the 2022 season, and McSorley also has NFL experience.
Asking Houston to cover more than a field goal in this game is a tall task, even if Davis Mills or Stroud plays well. Belichick’s team isn’t going to roll over, and he’s shown that with an impressive preseason record over a massive sample size.
The Patriots are a great bet as underdogs on Thursday.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.