6. Houston Texans (AWAY – Week 11)
For years, the Houston Texans played the role of bullied little brother to the New England Patriots.
That’s what happens when so many coaches and executives with ties to Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization relocate to one place. We’re seeing it more and more often today, with franchises like the Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, and New York Giants serving as the latest examples.
But lest anyone forget, Bill O’Brien and Romeo Crennel were first. The former offensive and defensive coordinator of the Patriots, respectively, these two joined forces down in the Lone Star State and have since put together some respectable teams over the years.
The major problem with O’Brien’s Texans was never Crennel’s defense — not with the likes of guys like J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, and other stars on that side of the ball. Offensively even, O’Brien has often had his fair share of playmakers (DeAndre Hopkins, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, Will Fuller, etc.).
The problem with this team was the quarterback.
Here’s the list of QBs O’Brien has had start for him since he took the Texans head coaching job in 2014:
- Ryan Fitzpatrick
- Ryan Mallett
- Tom Savage
- Case Keenum
- Brian Hoyer
- T.J. Yates
- Brandon Weeden
- Brock Osweiler
- Deshaun Watson
Watson came to the team in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. So far, he has been everything O’Brien and the Texans faithful could have hoped for and more at quarterback, and he represents the future (and the present) of this franchise well.
O’Brien and the Texans finally got the proverbial monkey off their backs last year when they beat the Patriots head-to-head in Week 13 by a 28-22 margin. That victory undoubtedly gave them the confidence that they could defeat “big brother” if they needed to — and they’ll need to again in 2020 come Week 11.
If that version of Houston beat that version of New England, it’s hard to imagine this version of Houston losing to this version of New England in 2020. While the departure of Hopkins certainly hurts the Texans, the departure of Brady could crush the Patriots — at least for a season while Stidham figures things out.