It's been said over and over, but it's worth saying one more time: the New England Patriots enjoyed their first round bye thanks to their dismantling of the Houston Texans on Dec. 10. It sparked a downward skid for the Texans and took them out of the top seed in the conference.
Now, the Patriots are hosting the Texans once again, this time in the final of the NFL's divisional playoff games on Sunday. Given that the earlier meeting ended 42-14 in favor of the Patriots, they're overwhelming favorites to win again.
According to OddsShark, the Patriots opened as 9.5-point favorites, but they could be had for just a bit more, 10 points, on some books. Given that it's played at home, the odds are essentially suggesting that all things even, the Patriots would still be favored, by about a touchdown.
The expert picks
Among some of the most prominent experts around the Internet, the Patriots have been overwhelmingly taken to win. That all starts with Joel Thorman of SB Nation, who says that he wants the Texans to win for the underdog factor, but ultimately picks New England to win by 15 points.
Then we come to ESPN, who fields 12 experts making their picks. Of those, 11 of them picked the Patriots to win. The only person to pick the Texans was Adam Schefter who, by the way, went 4-0 in his picks last week.
Yahoo's three experts, Mike Silver, Jason Cole and Les Carpenter, are going with the Patriots, as are the majority of Yahoo's users. Lastly, at CBS Sports, the most divided picks are in: of the eight experts, four are picking the Patriots and four are pcking the Texans. Jason La Canfora, Will Brinson, Josh Katzowitz and Ryan wilson are the people picking the Texans.
So there you have it. Almost everyone thinks the Patriots will win.