Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 1/9/13
Las Vegas odds makers learned their lesson from the Patriots-Texans matchup earlier in the season. When New England and Houston matched up in Foxboro in Week 14, the Patriots were just 5.5-point favorites before beating the Texans 42-14. This week, the Patriots are 9.5-point favorites over Houston, but is that enough? Since New England embarrassed the Texans on Dec. 9, the Patriots have only gotten stronger with Rob Gronkowski back from a broken forearm. There’s barely any tape of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez on the field at the same time from this season, so it will be tough for Houston to prepare for a Josh McDaniels-led unit with both star tight ends. Of course, the Patriots also played nearly perfectly against the Texans the first time around. Houston was also playing without outside linebacker Brooks Reed, though you’d be hard pressed to argue that he’s more important to the Texans than Gronkowski is to the Patriots. With a game under their belt, though, Houston should be able to prepare better this week than they did in Week 14. It would be very difficult for New England to beat Houston by 28 points again, and 9.5 is a very large point spread for a playoff game, but these are roughly the same teams that played in December. Will the Patriots cover the spread? Will they win with the Texans covering the spread? Or will Houston be able to pull off the upset? Vote below. Take Our Poll

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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