It’s time to take a look at four players on the Houston Texans offense that the New England Patriots will need to keep a close eye on during Sunday’s game. We’ve already seen these guys play once this season, but I don’t think we got as accurate of a scope on them as we would have liked.
1. WR Andre Johnson
In my opinion, Andre Johnson is the most talented skill position player on this roster and makes more of an impact on this team than Arian Foster. Although Foster is important and gets things going by establishing the run, he averages a mediocre four yards per carry and has an EPA of -25.3 due to a success rate under 40%. I think those advanced statistics really undercut Foster and don’t do him any justice, but I do think Foster is overrated if you look at him from a fantasy perspective or try to rate him based on the 1,500+ rushing yards alone.
To me, Johnson is the main man to watch on this offense, because holding him to under ten catches is still considered a good day against him. The Pats allowed eight catches to be completed by Johnson during the Week 14 matchup on Monday Night Football, but it was still a successful game for Aqib Talib (before he went down with an injury) and the Pats secondary. Johnson averages 100 receiving yards per game, which is an utterly ridiculous total.
2. TE Owen Daniels
The star tight end is the other dangerous weapon in the Texans passing attack, as the other three major contributors to the Texans pass offense are merely decent role players. “Merely” is the wrong choice of words, but the point here is that stopping Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson is of paramount importance.
Daniels hauled in 62 passes for 716 yards in the offseason, and he had a huge day with nine receptions against the Cincinnati Bengals. With 115 targets, he is the only player besides Johnson to have over 75 targets for the Texans. Daniels is one of the best pure pass-catching TEs in the league, and the Patriots usually struggle against tight ends.
3. LT Duane Brown
Arguably one of the three best left tackles in the game today, Duane Brown is as assured as it gets in pass protection and also possesses a high amount of proficiency as a run blocker. Brown has consistently improved in each year of his career, and it is crazy to think that he was once a liability for the Texans line. With the right side of the line filled with holes after the departures of Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel in the offseason, Brown’s importance as a bookend tackle has only increased.
4. C Chris Myers
Another ridiculously talented offensive lineman, Chris Myers should be regarded as arguably the best run blocking center. A mauler in every sense of the word, Myers is also astute as a pass blocker and might be an even better run blocker than the New England Patriots very own mauler Ryan Wendell. Myers has been a leader for this line for the last couple of years, and this is the firs time since he joined the team that he hasn’t been the best lineman on the Texans. That comes as no fault of his, though, and it’s more of a testament to the job Brown has done this year and his emergence as an elite left tackle.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.