Week 13 stock watch: Patriots fall to Texans on the road
The New England Patriots dropped their second game of the season in a primetime matchup against the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football.
The New England Patriots have fallen to 10-2 on the year after their 28-22 loss to the Houston Texans in Week 13. As a result, they are no longer the top seed in the AFC playoff picture. The team needs to improve in a number of areas with the postseason quickly approaching.
New England’s offense performed poorly against a suspect Houston defense. This unit still doesn’t have an identity after 12 games, and nothing they have done thus far in 2019 suggests that they will be finding one anytime soon. We are left to hope that they will figure something out before the playoffs begin.
Defensively, the Patriots gave up 28 points to Deshaun Watson and the Texans. New England’s pass coverage had been their biggest strength entering this contest, but they surrendered four touchdowns through the air to Houston.
The Patriots were not able to come away with a win in Week 13. They appear to be a far cry from the dominant team that they were during the first half of their schedule. Historically, New England has been able to peak at the perfect time, so there is still a chance that they turn things around over the course of the next four weeks.
Here are the top takeaways from Week 13:
The pass-catching running back has been quiet for most of the season, but he had a breakout performance Sunday night. He finished the game with 14 carries for 79 yards on the ground, and eight catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
A good portion of White’s production came during garbage time, but the same could be said about most of New England’s offensive numbers. He has become one of the few people that Tom Brady trusts, so it’s a good sign that he is making the most of his touches.
Stopping the run has been the Achilles heel of the Patriots defense in 2019. It was surprising to see the Texans pick them apart with their passing attack, but New England’s ability to stop the run in this matchup might have been even more stunning.
They limited Houston to 52 rushing yards and 2.3 yards per carry. This was the lone bright spot in an otherwise forgettable defensive performance from a unit that was being compared to the 1985 Chicago Bears a couple of months ago.
Aside from Julian Edelman, the Pats’ receivers have not been reliable this year. Mohamed Sanu had a poor game (including a big drop on fourth down), rookies Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry have still not earned the trust of Brady, and Phillip Dorsett has not been a consistently productive target when he is out on the field. The receiving corps as a whole has struggled all year to create separation.
The Texans were smart enough to put a cornerback on James White, and they also doubled Edelman on key downs, forcing Brady to look for somewhere else to go with the ball. One of these other guys has to step up for the Pats, because now the rest of the league has a blueprint on how to stop the New England passing attack.
Brady has not been the sole reason for the Patriots’ woes on offense, but he is partially responsible. The 42-year-old completed just 51.1% of his pass attempts versus the Texans, and most of his yardage and all three of his touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter when Houston was content to go into their prevent defense. Brady has to be better if he wants to make another Super Bowl run.
New England has been dominant against the pass in 2019, but they had a tough night in NRG Stadium. The Texans trio of DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills, and Will Fuller gave them all sorts of issues in the secondary.
The linebackers did not fare much better in this contest. Duke Johnson really hurt them in the first half. The Texans found ways to get favorable matchups for their receiving back as well as their tight ends, and that formula proved to work against the Patriots.
The kicking carousel in Foxborough continues to spin. The fourth Patriots kicker of the season wasn’t terrible, but he did miss an extra point against the Texans. Kai Forbath is not the answer to the team’s kicking issues, and he has already been released. Hopefully Nick Folk can return in time for the Patriots’ Week 14 game against the Chiefs because he has been the best of a bad bunch this season.