By Darryl Briggs
TEXANS UNDERDOG AGAINST FAVORED PATRIOTS
There are probably fewer football “experts” predicting the Texans to beat the Patriots today then there were political “experts” picking Trump to beat Hillary last November. But Trump did win last November, so that’s why they will play the game on the field today and not on paper. Because anything can happen.
Anything can happen, but let’s look at it realistically. Under head coach Bill Belichick the Patriots have the best record of any team since 2003 coming off of a bye week. New England is 19-4 coming after having a bye week. With the exception of Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, Patriot QB Tom Brady has the highest QB rating (112.2) of any starting QB in the league. Texan QB Brock Osweiller season QB rating is only 72.2. Defensively the Texans have a slight edge. The Texans have the #1 ranked defense in the league, but the Patriots defense ranks a very respectable #8.
In week 3 of this season the Patriots steamrolled the Texans 27-0 behind backup quarterback 3rd string quarterback Jacoby Brissett, while Tom Brady sat out a NFL suspension and backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sat out due to a shoulder injury. And by the way, both of those backup quarterbacks for the Patriots have a better QB rating than Osweiller.
So what do the Texans need to do to win this game? First off, they have to win the time of possession by 10 minutes or more. The Texans don’t have the offensive firepower to shoot it out with the Patriots, so they need to control the clock and the ball and hope for a low scoring game. Osweiller and the offense need to have sustainable drives, something they haven’t shown much success at. Brady can’t score if he is on the sideline and as good as the Texan defense is, keeping Brady on the sideline is the best chance to keep him from scoring. Brady will move the ball, so the Texan defense needs to keep the Patriots from gaining much ground on 1st and 2nd down. If Brady is repeatedly put in 3rd and long there is a better chance that you can get him off the field. When the Patriots do put drives together, the Texans will need to at least shut them down in the Red Zone and hold them to field goals.
Turnovers are another critical element of the game that the Texans must win. Like controlling the clock, if you can find a way to get two turnovers in the game and not give any up, you can swing a few points your way.
Finally, either a special teams play or a successful trick play that swings momentum for a little while in favor of the Texans. Either one will most likely be necessary.
So in summary, in order to win the Texans will need the following:
- Win the time of possession by 10 minutes or more.
- When the Patriots are in the red zone, hold them to more field goals than touchdowns.
- A plus two turnover margin.
- A big play on special teams or a trick play on offense.
If at the end of the game the Texans have managed to do all four of these, they may have a win. But if they fail in any one of the four, look for a Patriot win.