TEXANS (2-0) at PATRIOTS (2-0)
Line: HOU by 1.
Cote’s pick: NE 20-17.
TV: 8:25 p.m. Thursday, CBS/NFLN (airing in South Florida).
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Here is one of only two NFL Week 3 matchups in which both teams are 2-0. And how about this: Winless Dolphins are tied for week’s biggest favorite, while unbeaten Patriots are underdogs — at home. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE!? Actually, the Miami point spread can be explained in two words: “Cleveland Browns.” This betting line is more involved: New England is down to third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett making his first NFL start, with Tom Brady still suspended and Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder injured against the Dolphins. J.J. Watt and a defense that hasn’t allowed a TD in six quarters are facing a raw QB. Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) might not play again. Plus, this opponent knows the Pats well. Houston coach Bill O’Brien and defensive boss Romeo Crennel both served under Bill Belichick. Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel is a longtime ex-Patriot, as is defensive tackle and Old Cane Vince Wilfork. So, OK, fine. I get all that. And I still don’t buy NE as a home ’dog, however slight. Because it’s still Belichick and the Pats in Foxborough, where they’ve won 27 of the past 29 games. This team finds a way. It just does.