NFL Playoffs: Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
In Week 14 we all thought this matchup would be a dogfight. Personally, I expected the limping Texans to turn it up and go punch for punch with the Patriots, who at that point were just getting things going. After a few mistakes on defense the Texans fell behind 21-0 early and never stood a chance to come back in Foxboro.
You would think, with the playoff picture panning out the way it did late in the season, that the Texans would develop a sense of urgency to try and get home field advantage before facing a team like the Patriots. Instead, the Texans looked horrible in the last three games (with or without all of their starters). Because of that this game will be played in Foxboro instead of at Reliant, which doesn’t bode well for Kubiak and company.
The Texans were outplayed in almost every facet of the game in their Week 14 “Playoff Preview” loss to the Patriots. Brady sliced them up surgically and the defense eliminated that run game that the Texans hold so dear. The Texans are built on their run game and having it play into fakes, and a disruptive pass rush that plays into opportunistic turnovers. Belichick orchestrated a game plan that eliminated the effectiveness of both of those things, and even took risks early to ensure a big lead at home.
The one thing that the Texans could take away from that game is that they figured out a way to get to Brady -- and get him on his back -- late in the game. Victory was far out of reach by then, but they did at least get to see some film on how to beat the Patriots. Any team that can disrupt the Patriots' timing can beat them; however they are still great at mixing it up and throwing in a Ridley run on a delayed hand off or wide receiver screen. Brady is a master at exploiting a team that is cheating on defense and playing musical chairs from under center in order to get the best matchups.
The game will be defined by how the Texans handle mismatches and how well they can run the ball. I have to give the coaching edge to Belichick in this one, as well as the momentum and veteran edge. The Texans make more of a game of this one in a low scoring affair, but ultimately Pats win 23-13.