Houston Texans Pass Offense vs. New England Patriots Pass Defense
I’m happy to see that people are final realizing Matt Schaub is one of the top ten quarterbacks in the league today, and a friend of mine and I praised him during lunch for being the best QB in the league at selling the play action (at least this season). The fact that the Texans run it so much with a star RB like Arian Foster also helps, but Foster is also averaging less than four yards per carry (yes, I am implying that he is a tad overrated due to the fantasy football hype).
Chandler Jones is healthy again for New England, and he is in for a tough matchup against elite left tackle Duane Brown. In my mind, Brown is one of the most underrated tackles in the game and needs to be talked about more as one of the game’s best players at any position. The Patriots pass rush is much better off with Jones, and Trevor Scott will be helping out as well. I want to see Scott shift over to LE to help Rob Ninkovich take advantage of a banged up, below-average right side of the line.
Andre Johnson could be matched up against Aqib Talib with Devin McCourty bracketing him, which would leave rookie Alfonzo Dennard against the under-appreciated Kevin Walter. I guess that works. Owen Daniels is a huge threat at tight end, and I would like to see Tavon Wilson on him as the “money” linebacker. He’s thrived in that role this season, especially when he was utilized there early on in the season. The linebackers won’t hold up against Daniels, and I don’t think Steve Gregory or Patrick Chung would have success on Daniels either.
Texans Run Offense vs. Patriots Run Defense
Arian Foster is a workhorse back who already has over 1,000 rushing yards, and he is helped by one of the game’s best centers in Chris Myers and the aforementioned star at LT. But Foster has also averaged under four yards per carry, and the Texans are best off whittling down his workload a little bit against the tough Patriots front seven by giving some carries to Justin Forsett as well. Ben Tate is still banged up, so he might not be much of a factor in this one.
The Patriots run defense really missed rookie Chandler Jones over the past couple of weeks, and the impact that he has on this team as a run defender is tremendous. He’s an above-average pass rusher, but he’s a bit overrated in that regard- he’s still developing there. But as a run defender, Jones is already one of the best 4-3 DEs in that regard. He’ll have his hands full against Brown, but he will make his impact known.
Oh man, this game is just so difficult to call especially with the tremendous amount of talent vested in both teams. I’m going to be a homer and select the New England Patriots over the Houston Texans in a 31-28 game, with Stephen Gostkowski booting a game-winning field goal. Why? Because I am a notorious Gostkowski-lover and want to try and make him look as good as possible.
In reality, I’m picking the Patriots because of Tom Brady. He’s going to have a big day against the Texans biggest weakness- the secondary. If Matthew Stafford can light them up, then Brady certainly will. It’s going to be extremely close, but the difference is going to be Brady. The Texans, like the Atlanta Falcons, are a tad overrated with a record that flatters them. If you think the Patriots played poorly against the Dolphins last week (well, they did), then you should take a look at what the Texans have done the past three weeks. Their defense (mainly the pass defense) has been absurdly bad.
The Texans are a great team, but the Patriots are just a tad better. Especially since the Pats have the league’s MVP on their side (Watt will have to settle for DPOY).
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.