Let’s keep it real here. The Houston Texans’ season will come to a crashing halt this weekend when they take on the New England Patriots. We are more likely to witness pigs flying on Saturday than Houston upsetting New England in Foxborough.
This isn’t as much of a knock to Houston as you may think. The Patriots are just that good. Bill Belichick, a football mastermind, found a way to start the season off with a 3-1 record when his future Hall of Fame quarterback was suspended for the first four weeks of action. One of those three victories came against the Texans, when third-string rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett helped New England blank Houston by a score of 27-0. And this was when the Texans had J.J. Watt at their disposal, at least for a little bit.
When he returned from suspension, Tom Brady played arguably his best football in his illustrious career, throwing for 3,554 yards and 28 touchdowns in only 12 games. His 28:2 touchdown to interception ratio is the best by a signal caller in NFL history. At 39 years of age, Brady is showing no signs of slowing down and is sticking it to father time.
Even without the services of star tight end Rob Gronkowski, New England hasn’t flinched. They still have Martellus Bennett, who can do everything Gronk can, just at a slightly lower level. This season, Bennett has caught 55 passes for 701 yards a seven scores. The Patriots haven’t lost a game since Gronkowski went down, which isn’t surprising considering they won 14 games this season – more than any other team in 2016.
LeGarrette Blount is a force to be reckoned with as well and will be sure to run with power and attitude every time he touches the football in order to wear Houston’s stout front seven down. Blount carried the ball 299 times for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns this season and would love to add to that already impressive tally.
Granted, Houston has the top ranked defense in the NFL, which is something New England must account for. But Brady, a 16-year veteran, has picked apart plenty of elite defenses in his career, which is part of the reason he is a four-time Super Bowl Champion.
The Patriots have all the chips they need to run the table – again – this season. New England has made five-straight trips to the AFC title game and they will make a sixth this season.
Even if Houston’s defense defies all odds and finds a way to shut down the Patriots offensively, they won’t have the firepower on the other side of the ball to pull away. The Patriots are going to score at least 14 points on Saturday. The Texans, on the other hand, may struggle to even get into field goal range.
Look at the New England’s win over Denver in Week 15 if you need an example. The Broncos’ vaunted defense held the Patriots to 16 points and still lost because their futile offense could only produce three. The Texans’ offense, which hasn’t scored more than 27 points in a game all season, is worse than Denver’s.
Houston’s passing game is awful, and a good day for Brock Osweiler is when he doesn’t turn the ball over. Forget about throwing for 400 yards or four touchdowns. Osweiler couldn’t even top 300 yards passing and Houston hasn’t scored more than 27 points in a game all season. Against the Raiders last Saturday, Osweiler only completed 14 passes for 168 yards, while scoring two total touchdowns against a defense that had no business being in the postseason. And this was considered to be a great game for Osweiler.
Although Houston has a solid ground game in Lamar Miller, who churned up 1,073 yards in 14 games, and has good run blocking protection to compliment his talents, you have to play well at every position to beat New England. Unless Miller has a field day and rushes for 300 yards and three scores, the Texans won’t win if their offense is one-dimensional as it usually is. Houston will need to do more than run the ball and prevent mistakes if they want to beat the Patriots on their home turf.
Speaking of home turf, the Texans don’t necessarily play well away from NRG Stadium. In fact, they’re 2-6 on the road this season, with their two victories coming against a lowly 3-13 Jacksonville Jaguars and an Indianapolis Colts team who plays indoors. The frigid Foxborough weather will only add to New England’s chances of winning, as the Patriots have plenty of experience playing in outdoor games in January. On the flip side of the coin, Houston does not.
The Patriots are seen as 16-point favorites over the Texans on Saturday and they should be. Other than Houston’s No. 1 ranked defense, which was obliterated by an undermanned New England in Week 3, what argument can you give to convince anybody Houston actually has a chance? It was a good run, Texans fans. Your team won a second-straight division title and even won a playoff game. But, all good things must come to an end.