The New England Patriots and Houston Texans enter Week 5 with 1-3 records. That said, both of these franchises are on two different trajectories, despite similar results through the first month of the season. Houston is currently deploying rookie quarterback Davis Mills following an injury to Week 1 starter Tyrod Taylor. Thus far, the debut for the third-round pick hasn't been as prolific as they would have hoped, as Mills has been averaging 151 yards of total offense through his first two starts. Meanwhile, the Patriots began the year with their rookie signal-caller in Mac Jones and the first-rounder has shown flashes. In New England's loss to the Bucs last week, Jones completed 19 straight passes at one point. With that in mind, it's not surprising to see the Patriots roll into this game pretty heavy road favorites.
As we look forward to Week 5, let this post be your viewing guide for Sunday's contest. Below, you'll find all the viewing info for this head-to-head along with our keys to the game and, of course, our prediction for how this will ultimately shake out.
How to watch
Keys to the game
Patriots: Get Damien Harris going
The Patriots running game was nonexistent in their Week 4 loss to the Buccaneers, rushing for -1 yard as a team. Damien Harris, specifically, had -4 yards on four carries. That's simply not going to win you many football games and New England should look to get a running game going against Houston, especially with its offensive line banged up. So far this season, the Texans are allowing 137 yards on the ground and eight rushing scores, which is tied for the league-worst. According to Pro Football Focus' grading system, Houston ranks 27th in the league against the run. If the Patriots can establish Harris early, it could prove to be a dominant day for New England.
Texans: Create some semblance of offense
Houston was demolished by the Bills in Week 4, losing 40-0 on the road. Mills passed for just 87 yards and four interceptions on the day while the running game totaled 48 yards on just 2.7 yards per carry. That can't continue if they want to start being competitive in these games with Mills under center, but they do have a tough task with New England's front seven. This defense does have pass rushers that can get to the quarterback, especially Matt Judon. The linebacker has 19 pressures (4.5 sacks) on the season, including five last week against Tom Brady. If the Texans' offensive line can't contain him and give Mills time to throw the football, it may be another long day for David Culley's team.
The Patriots are heavy road favorite in this game as Caesars Sportsbook has this spread at New England -9. They are clearly the better team on paper and that should play out in this game. It's also worth noting that Bill Belichick is spectacular against rookie quarterbacks. The hoodie is 22-6 against first-year quarterbacks and his defenses have also allowed just 9.5 points per game in their last six games against first-year signal callers (Zach Wilson, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold, and Josh Allen were the six QBs). This game shouldn't be much of a contest.
Pick: Patriots 24, Texans 10