W2W4: New England Patriots vs Houston Texans

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When the Patriots Pass the Ball:

Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots bring the top-rated passing attack to Houston looking for lift-off. The Patriots are still banged up with Rob Gronkowski sidelined with a knee injury and not likely to play and Julian Edelman still out and hoping to return from his broken foot by the end of the regular season. Danny Amendola did not play in Denver and was able to return against Philadelphia and had just 7 catches on 13 targets.

Tom Brady continues to put up big numbers throwing to Brandon LaFell, Scott Chandler, Brandon Bolden, and Keshawn Martin. Brady had a pair of interceptions last week and completed just 29 of 58 passes but was hampered by nine drops by his receivers. Brandon LaFell continues to struggle and had just four catches for 27 yards last week on nine targets.

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A bright sign was the strong play in the passing game by running back James White. White had a team high 10 receptions for 115 yards and blame has to go to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for not getting White more involved in the offense prior to the fourth quarter of the Eagles game.

New England continued to have struggles on the offensive line for a third straight game. The Patriots have settled on having Sebastian Vollmer at left tackle, Marcus Cannon on the right side, and Bryan Stork at center. The guard spots are more fluid.

Josh Kline still plays at both left or right guard depending upon which rookie is playing guard. Shaq Mason usually plays at left guard moving Kline to the right side of the line and Kline flips to left guard when Tre’ Jackson slides in at right guard as he rotates series with Mason. David Andrews–who started at center the first half of the season–has been planted on the bench and should be an option to return to the rotation and potentially jump-start the offensive line.

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Houston brings pressure with All Pro defensive end J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus on the opposite side. Watt will command a double-team on each and every play. Even with a broken hand and extra attention, Watt still manages to make plays–he is just that good. Houston will move him around the line in search of a mismatch throughout the game.

Second year defensive end Jadeveon Clowney–despite being a number one overall draft pick–remains an underachiever. However Clowney has all the tools to be a great pass rusher still and may soon have his breakout. Wilfork is no longer a pass rushing threat but if the opportunity presents himself he will be looking to get a shot at Brady at long last.

In the secondary the Texans have two very good cornerbacks in strong and physical duo of Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph. Safeties Quintin Demps and Andre Hal are very good in the passing game and will be counted on to check in on Scott Chandler and James White. Rookie cornerback Kevin Johnson was targeted by the Bills last week and gave up two touchdowns.

The Texans are strong on defense and have shut down the Saints, Titans, Bengals, and Buccaneers holding those four teams in the single digits. However, Miami, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Atlanta have lit up the Texans. The Patriots will not have an easy time of it, but should be able to move the ball through the air against the Texans.

ADVANTAGE: PATRIOTS

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