Patriots fans should be expecting RB Damien Harris to have another career day against Houston on Sunday.
Though the New England Patriots are right back in the thick the AFC playoff picture after rattling off two straight victories, it goes without saying that positive takeaways have been few and far between this season.
That was to be expected given the magnitude of roster turnover they underwent in the offseason, but that might prove to be a blessing in disguise for some players, who are getting opportunities they might not have had if the Patriots were in legitimate contention for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
When it comes to Damien Harris, however, something tells us that he would’ve burst onto scene regardless of where the Patriots found themselves in the standings. Sure, he’s been fortunate that Sony Michel hasn’t been able to stay healthy, but his talent is simply too obvious for him not to continue having a prominent role even when Michel reenters the fold.
What we’re trying to say is that Patriots fans shouldn’t expect Harris, who’s been lighting it up in recent weeks, to slow down anytime soon. In fact, we’d be shocked if the Alabama product didn’t enjoy a career day against the Houston Texans’ sad excuse of a run defense.
Ironically enough, Harris is coming off the best performance of his career vs Baltimore in Week 10, so he’ll have some pretty high standards to shatter. Houston’s defense, however, doesn’t even compare to the Ravens’ star-studded group.
In that game, Harris took 22 carries for 121 yards (5.5 YPC). It marked the third time this season that he rushed for more than 100 yards — which actually ranks fourth among all RBs — but it was the first occasion in which he handled more than 20 carries in a single game.
If the 2019 third-round pick was able to find that much real estate against Baltimore, we don’t even want to fathom what he has in store for the Texans, who currently rank dead last in the NFL, surrendering a whopping 167.4 rushing yards per game. For those curious, that’s 10 yards more than the 31st-ranked team in that category.
Want another reason to be excited about Harris, Patriots fans? Houston also ranks 32nd in yards allowed per carry (5.12) and has surrendered at least 162 rushing yards to four of the top six rushing offenses in the league — Baltimore, Minnesota, Tennessee and Cleveland.
New England ranks third in that department, averaging 161 yards on the ground per game, and they also come in seventh with a respectable 4.82 yards per rushing attempt.
When you couple those telling numbers with Harris’ exceptional run of form — he’s gone over 100 yards in two of the last three games — you really can’t help but set high expectations for the second-year breakout star on Sunday.