New England Patriots vs Houston Texans: Scouting Report
By Hal Bent
When the Patriots pass the ball
In his past two games against the Texans, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has thrown eight touchdown passes. However, that was then and this is now. In 2019, Brady has just 15 touchdowns to five interceptions, a ton of throw-aways, and only an 88.5 quarterback rating this season (which would be his lowest since 2013).
Brady has been very good at moving in the pocket to avoid the rush this season and has been sacked only 18 times. This week the pass rush is not a huge issue as they have shored up the left tackle position with Isaiah Wynn, and the only pass rushing threats for the Texans are either on injured reserve (J.J. Watt) or now playing in Seattle (Jadeveon Clowney).
Brady should continue to target Julian Edelman, who is leading the team with 76 catches for 809 yards. The health of the receiving group is the big question mark as Phillip Dorsett (26 receptions for 332 and five touchdowns) missed the last game with a concussion and new acquisition Mohamed Sanu was out with an ankle injury.
Rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers contributed to the last victory over Dallas, but the return of Dorsett (likely to play Sunday night) and Sanu (a game-time decision) increase Brady’s comfort level ten-fold.
The Texans have struggled against the pass in 2019: they are 25th in passing yards allowed and have allowed a whopping 22 passing touchdowns in 11 games (27th in the league). However there is hope, as cornerback Bradley Roby should play for the first time in over a month. Safety Justin Reid should be back as well, and Houston may have their secondary healthy for the first time all season.
Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney are solid inside linebackers for Houston, but neither of them are known for their quickness or pass coverage skills. Having the duo trying to cover Rex Burkhead and James White (or even Brandon Bolden) is a huge match-up win for the Patriots, especially on third down. Look for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to try to isolate the running backs on Cunningham and McKinney early and often.