The Young and The Ageless

AFC Game Of The Week

Houston Texans at New England Patriots

Texans: After winning the AFC South the previous two seasons, last year was definitely a disappointment for the Houston Texans and the injury bug hit this team hard. After being considered the best defensive player in the league and one of the best overall players in the NFL, J.J. Watt has had a tough time staying on the field and last year, his season ended early after fracturing his leg. The Texans also lost linebacker Whitney Mercilus to a torn pectoral and the biggest of them all came when Deshaun Watson tore his ACL during practice. I can sit here and tell you that if Deshaun doesn’t get injured, he’s the offensive rookie of the year, the Texans would’ve been a playoff team and if Bill O’Brien doesn’t decide to start Watson last season, the Texans don’t win any football games. I really like the direction they are headed in. They have a nice tandem with Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, the defense is still serviceable and JaDeveon Clowney has finally looked like the guy that many expected him to be when he was selected first overall back in 2014. The AFC South as a whole will be a very interesting division with the Jaguars and how they won the division last season, Luck potentially returning, the Titans and the moves they’ve made and of course, these Texans and they begin their season against a very familiar opponent that they’ve seen quite a bit over the years.

Patriots: It’s another season for them and they enter as the defending champions of the American Football Conference or as many refer to it, the AFC. Hate them or love them, this is the best organization in our league right now and they are the model of consistency. They won 13 games once again in 2017, won the AFC East and for the eighth straight season, the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC traveled through Gillette Stadium as they clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs and at this point, it’s almost as if you expect them to just be there. They were still able to get back to the Super Bowl even without a key piece in Julian Edelman and the first four weeks of this season, they will have to wait for the return of number 11 as he serves his four-game suspension for using PED’s. Their receiving core right now isn’t as strong as it usually is. Danny Amendola wasn’t re-signed and he’s now playing for the Dolphins and Brandin Cooks was traded away after one season in Foxborough. They did sign Jordan Matthews in free agency, but he’s been unproven at this point of his career and they did acquire Cordarrelle Patterson from the Oakland Raiders. No matter what it may seem like, the Patriots will make it work and they’ll kick their season off Sunday.

Texans Player To Watch: Tyrann Mathieu- This was such a good signing for the Texans in March. He’s a jack of all trades type of football player. You need him to cover ground, he can do it, make a tackle, he does it, load up in the box, no issues. The Patriots need to know where he is at all times on Sunday.

Patriots Player To Watch: Jeremy Hill– The Patriots haven’t had a consistent answer at running back since the days of LeGarrette Blount and Mike Gillislee didn’t pan out last season. Jeremy is a guy that can burst through the tackles and this is exactly what the Patriots have needed is that back to come in and provide some balance.

Final Analysis: These two teams have met each year since 2015 with the Patriots winning each game. Last year’s battle was probably the most entertaining one of them all. Watson and the Texans gave the Patriots all they could handle, but in the end, the Tom Brady factor was just too much. This one could be another fun game to watch. It’s key for the Houston Texans to double Gronk (especially in the red zone) and they can’t let Brady get into a rhythm in the pocket because if he does, it’s basically over. I see New England establishing their ground game and using Chris Hogan to make plays for them with a less than 100 percent receiving core.

Prediction: Patriots 31 Texans 24