Divisional Round: Houston Texans At New England Patriots

The Texans got off the canvas after losing three of their last four regular-season games to beat the Bengals in the Wild-Card game. While Matt Schaub’s numbers were not bad, he did not look like a quarterback who could take his team on the road and come up with a win against the explosive Patriots. Earlier in the season, Schaub looked fearless. He no longer projects that image.
Winner Tom Brady had one of his best days of the season when the Patriots overwhelmed the Texans in New England during a Week 14 Monday night victory. Brady completed 21-of-35 passes for 296 yards and he threw 4 TD passes in that game. Brady believes he can have his way with the Texans’ secondary and he will attack that unit until he’s proven wrong.
The Texans had one of the most balanced offenses during the regular season, ranking seventh overall. Running back Arian Foster ran for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns. While he is a power back, he can break long plays as well. Wide receiver Andre Johnson caught 112 passes during the season and he is not going to drop many. TE Owen Daniel knows how to get open on third-down plays.
Winner It’s been another sensational season for the New England offense and while Brady will throw the ball all over the field, the Patriots have gotten a huge lift from running back Stevan Ridley. He has rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wes Welker will catch anything that Brady throws his way and tight end Rob Gronkowski is a stellar big-play maker. Brandon Lloyd can make highlight-film type catches.
Winner The numbers may not tell the story in this game since the Texans ranked 7th overall on defense and 7th against the run. However, they had no success against New England and Wade Phillips’ unit may not have a lot of confidence in this game. Defensive end J.J. Watt must have a huge game. He had 20.5 sacks and he batted down 16 passes this season.
The Patriots rank 29th against the pass and they are vulnerable in that area, but they are much better than they were at the start of the season. The New England pass defense picked up after they acquired veteran cornerback Aqib Talib from Tampa Bay. Outside linebacker Jerod Mayo had a team-high 147 tackles and he also forced 4 fumbles.
Special Teams
Even when the Texans were playing their best football, they were quite vulnerable on special teams. They have struggled with both punt and kickoff coverage. Placekicker Shayne Graham has had a good but not great season, making 31-of-38 FG attempts.
Winner Head coach Bill Belichick is confident in his special teams. Placekicker Stephen Gostkowski was decent this year, making 29-of-35 FG attempts. Punter Zoltan Mesko averaged 43.1 yards per punt and landed 28-of-60 inside the opponents’ 20.

The Winner Is

Winner Patriots
3 out of 4

The Texans were the best team in the AFC through the first half of the season, but they have lost their edge. The Patriots have perhaps the best QB-coach combination in the game in Brady and Belichick and it will take a complete reversal of fortune if the Texans are going to challenge the defending AFC champions.


  1. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass in the first quarter against Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Vikings 21-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) GREENBAY, WI - OCTOBER 20: Running back Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by nose tackle Kenny Clark #97 and cornerback Demetri Goodson #39 of the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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  2. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles avoids Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings as he runs for a first down during the second quarter of a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-16.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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  3. GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football during the NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals and Seahawks tied 6-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 16: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers scrambles out of the pocked during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 16, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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