The New England Patriots kick off their postseason run against the Houston Texans at 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday night in a rematch of their Week 3 meeting. Tom Brady was suspended for that game, but it was no trouble for the Patriots as they rolled to a 27-0 win with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. Brady will of course be on the field this time around, and should make the offense even better than it was early in the year.
On the other side, the Texans are fresh off of a win over the Raiders, but this will prove to be a much bigger challenge for Brock Osweiler and the offense. Cosnidering they’re double-digit underdogs, not many expect them to win this game, and I don’t either. Here are three reason the Patriots will crush the Texans at home and roll into the AFC title game.
Tom Brady will negate Houston’s pass rush
Tom Brady is arguably the best quarterback remaining in the postseason, if not in the entire league. He’s a quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes and rarely struggles to move the football, no matter how strong a defense is. In fact, in his career, he’s 3-1 against teams that boast the No. 1 defense in the league, which the Texans do. Their pass rush is strong with Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus on the edges, but Brady knows how to neutralize that: quick passes.
Brady will hit his receivers with short, easy throws, getting the ball out of his hand quickly and efficiently. His incredibly quick release is one of the things that separates him from other quarterbacks, and it’s the main reason he’ll pick apart Houston’s defense. Julian Edelman will find ways to get open in the middle of the field, giving Brady a reliable option across the middle, as he typically does.
LeGarrette Blount is a tone-setter
LeGarrette Blount is somewhat of a forgotten man in New England. He doesn’t get much attention because of the Patriots’ prolific passing attack and great defense, but he certainly deserves praise for being a tone-setting running back. The Patriots should opt to come out and run the ball early, establishing exactly what they want to do offensively against the Texans. Blount can handle a heavy workload, and he should see plenty of carries in the first quarter. Doing so would immediately put Clowney and Mercilus in a bind, forcing them to play the run instead rushing the quarterback out of the gate.
After establishing the run, the Patriots will be able to take advantage of play-action and take deep shots down the field. The linebackers and safeties will be forced to bite on the fake set up by Blount and the running game, which will benefit the Patriots down the line. And after they jump out to a lead, they can ride Blount in the fourth quarter to close out the game – one of his best assets. After trying to tackle him for 45 minutes, defenders will be less willing in the fourth, thus making it easier for him to break tackles.
Brock Osweiler struggles against good defenses
Brock Osweiler doesn’t just struggle against good defenses – he has trouble with even mediocre ones. However, when he faces the Patriots on Saturday night, he’ll be going up against the top-ranked scoring defense in the NFL. There isn’t one specific thing that the Patriots do exceptionally well, but their defense is as well-rounded and balanced as any in the league. Osweiler is going to have his issues against New England’s disciplined defense and solid cornerbacks.
He’s bound to make at least two or three key mistakes, which will doom the Texans. And when you play the Patriots, you can’t afford to make errors and expect to beat them. Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan will take away DeAndre Hopkins on the outside, while Devin McCourty’s versatility and ability to cover tight ends will force Osweiler to throw into tight windows when targeting the middle of the field. Keeping pace with Tom Brady is no easy task, especially when you struggle with accuracy and downfield passing the way Osweiler does.