The Houston Texans are out for revenge today in Foxborough, as they were sent on a downhill slide after being blown out in front of a national audience 42-14 by the New England Patriots.
The game is set at 4:30 p.m. ET in Gillette, and CBS will be broadcasting the game if you aren’t one of the lucky ones who will be physically there. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms call the shots for most of CBS’s big games, and they will be doing so for this Texans-Patriots battle. You can also listen to Ian Eagle and former Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Trent Green (love that guy) call the game on national radio for Dial Global Sports. As always, 98.5 FM The Sports Hub will be calling the Pats game if you live in the area.
New England Patriots Pass Offense vs. Houston Texans Pass Defense
The New England Patriots hold the advantage in this portion of the matchup, and you only need to take a look at the scoreboard from the last two times these teams played to see why. Tom Brady will be facing more pressure in this game, because Brooks Reed is back on the field for the Texans and the Texans likely have a better approach against Brady. But I still don’t think he’ll be facing a significant amount of pressure in this game, because the Texans pass rush has been down ever since the Week 14 matchup against the Patriots.
In their final game of the regular season, the Texans failed to place adequate pressure on Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, and that’s not a recipe for success for the Texans. Wade Phillips loves to blitz, but when Connor Barwin and Whitney Mercilus (the rookie who is very inconsistent but very talented when he’s “on”) are not effective, then the Texans run into trouble. Reed will help bring some more talent and consistency off the edge, but the only time the Texans have had success recently blitzing is when sending the house. That won’t work against Brady.
I like the Texans secondary and think they are better equipped to stop the Pats with Jonathan Joseph at full strength, but that’s not much of a factor. Houston is susceptible to getting burned, and Brandon Lloyd and Donte’ Stallworth showed us why. Luckily for the Texans, Stallworth is on the injured reserve.
Patriots Run Offense vs. Texans Run Defense
The Texans inside linebacker duo went from being one of the best in the league early in the season with Brian Cushing in the fold, then to mediocre, and now they are just downright awful. Tim Dobbins was a solid backup who turned into an above-average starter when thrust into the starting role, but he was placed on the IR before the postseason started. Without Dobbins, the Texans are starting Barrett Ruud next to Bradie James. Both of them are solid veterans, but neither of them are solid players and are terrible against the run. Ryan Wendell is one of the best run blocking centers and Logan Mankins is one of the top guards in the league, so expect feature back Stevan Ridley to have a lot of success when running it up the middle.
Continue Reading for a preview of the Houston Texans offense and the New England Patriots defense, as well as a final prediction for the game.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.