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Texans vs. Patriots 2016 picks: Experts split on 'Thursday Night Football' matchup

The Texans and Patriots will face off on "Thursday Night Football," but who will be starting at quarterback for New England?

Is there ever a good time to pick against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots? Many had the Patriots going 4-0 to start their season despite not having quarterback Tom Brady for those games, and now many have them beating the Houston Texans despite not having Brady or his replacement, Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo, who has had the Patriots' offense running like a well-oiled machine in Brady's absence, sustained a sprained AC joint in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins and now it looks like New England will rely on Jacoby Brissett on Thursday Night Football.

Brissett, a third-round pick in this year's draft, completed 6 of 9 passes in relief of Garoppolo against the Dolphins. Many have joked that it doesn't matter who starts at quarterback for the Patriots, and that will be put to the test on Thursday against the Texans' strong defense.

J.J. Watt can make any quarterback regret his decision to start playing football, so Brissett's first NFL start is about as tough a test as you can have.

Houston is also off to a 2-0 start and a lead in the AFC South, with the Tennessee Titans in second place at 1-1 and both the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars sitting at 0-2.

As far as experts are concerned, there are plenty who think the Patriots will win, seemingly regardless of who starts at quarterback. At CBS Sports, it's an even split, with four writers picking New England and the other four picking Houston. Of the seven experts who had submitted their picks at ESPN, the Patriots have a slight 4-3 edge.

Here at SB Nation, it's a similar spread:

Game RVB Stephen White Thomas George Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Tyler Tynes Louis Bien Joel Thorman Fooch OddsShark computer
HOU vs NE HOU NE NE HOU HOU NE HOU NE HOU HOU

Five of our experts, along with the OddsShark computer, are siding with the Texans on the road. The other four are going with the Patriots. Thursday's game will be broadcast on the NFL Network and CBS, beginning at 8:25 p.m. ET. The game will also be live streamed online via Twitter, beginning just before kickoff.