“Put It Down For The 713”

Intriguing Game- Week 13 

New England Patriots at Houston Texans 

Patriots: Since the loss to the Baltimore Ravens, they’ve bounced back winning two game in a row. They haven’t been pretty. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, the offense struggled to generate much production. You can say the same in the game against the Dallas Cowboys last week. To their defense though, the weather was a key factor in the game. In their last two contests, the Patriots offense has scored a total of 30 points (17 against the Eagles & 13 against the Cowboys). Once again, the defense has come to the rescue as they have all season long. Entering the game against Dallas, it was the number one ranked offense of the Cowboys against the number one ranked defense of the Patriots. Someone had to prevail, right? If you’ve watched New England Patriots football over the years, their defensive formula has been the same. That’s taking away an offenses number one option and forcing a team to beat them another way. That was on full display on Sunday. Stephon Gilmore is the best cornerback in the game right now. He held wide receiver Amari Cooper to zero catches all game long. I haven’t seen a cornerback this consistently dominant since the Darrelle Revis days. With the win, the Patriots became the first team in the AFC to reach ten wins. The way we’ve discussed the 2000 Ravens defense, the 02 Buccaneers defense, ’13 Seahawks and ’15 Broncos is the same way we’ll bring up this Patriots defense for years to come. That’s how dominant they’ve been. Everyone wants to say the offense isn’t good enough to help them win. I say doubting number 12 is the worst thing you can do. It may look off now, but things can turn around when they know they need to be at their best. That’s in January. To keep the ball rolling, they’ll travel to Houston to face a first-place Texans group looking for a statement win.

Texans: Week 11 was the worst football I’ve seen them play all season long in Baltimore. It was a hyped-up game with it being the first matchup between Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. The Texans just didn’t show up. The offensive line struggled to keep their quarterback on their feet. He was hit ten times and sacked seven times. In this business, it’s not what happens to you. It’s how you respond to it. They had a big game against the Indianapolis Colts to kick off week 12. First place was on the line. They needed a bounce back game. They got it! The Texans did a complete 360 last Thursday night. They were able to get their running game going. Deshaun made his plays all over the field. Most importantly, the offensive line was able to dominate up front and protect the quarterback. If I’m not mistaken, I believe he was only sacked one time in the entire game which is a huge improvement from the previous game. Now, the Houston Texans are in first place in the AFC South after the big win against the Colts. Deandre Hopkins. He’s still one of the best receivers in the league, or the best if you want to be technical about it. For the life of me, I don’t understand why teams elect to cover him in one on one coverage. That’s basically asking him to shred your secondary apart. When the Texans have their offense flowing, this is a tough group to take down. Throughout the season, I’ve been vocal about their defense. Say whatever you feel about him, but J.J. Watt still has an impact within this defense. When the team decided to trade Jadeveon Clowney, Watt went back to be the major focus of the opponents’ game planning. Without him, they have an inconsistent pass rush. They can get to the quarterback, but whenever they show blitz which hurts them at times. One big game is done. Sunday night, they welcome the defending Super Bowl champs to town.

Patriots Player to Watch: Mohamed Sanu– If the Patriots want to get their offense back into a rhythm, this is who needs the ball in his hands. What I enjoy about his game is he knows his role within an offense. They acquired him to be that big play threat for Brady and this offense. I love the damage he does on the inside over the middle of the field. If he wants that “Patriots moment”, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Texans Player to Watch: Carlos Hyde– When Lamar Miller tore his ACL, the Texans made the move to trade for him. He’s been a godsend for this Houston offense. When you feed him the ball, he can make something happen with it. I look at what he did against the Chiefs earlier in the year. He took over. Look what he did against Jacksonville a few weeks ago. He rushed for 160 yards. Give him the ball and let him work.

Final Analysis: This is a big game in the AFC. It’s also a reunion. Bill O’Brien was Bill Belichick’s offensive coordinator for New England. In the last five meetings between these two, the Patriots have won each of them. Is this the game that New England gets into a rhythm offensively? N’Keal Harry can be the difference maker for them. He’s a possession receiver and will be targeted in the red zone. I wonder how the Patriots defense will try to defend Deshaun Watson. He’s not Lamar Jackson, but he has a dynamic skillset that can make a defense put in work to limit him. If I’m Houston, the offensive line needs to be prepared to see a lot of last-minute blitzes and exotic looks from the Patriots front seven.

Prediction: Patriots 21 Texans 14


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