Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage:
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let it pry through the portage of the head,
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
-Excerpt from William Shakespeare’s Henry V
Need I say more? On with the predictions!
As a Texans fan, or just a sports fan in general, it’s tempting to predict an upset. If you close your eyes, you can see the Texans winning the toss, deferring until the second half, and sending their defense out onto the field. You can see that defense stopping Tom Brady on that first drive and forcing a punt. Maybe even forcing a turnover. You can see Lamar Miller or C.J. Fiedorowicz scoring on a short field. You can see the Texans’ defense, pumped that the offense actually contributed something tangible to the defense’s efforts, continuing to frustrate the Patriots. You can somehow see the Texans up 10-0 early, hanging on to win, and the City of Houston going off its collective rocker about its team being just one win away from a Super Bowl that’s going to be played at NRG Stadium. It’s implausible, but it’s not impossible. Not with a defense that’s played as well as the Texans’ has.
The more likely result, unfortunately, is that the Texans’ defense plays its guts out and shows well before ultimately being outdone by the excellence of Tom Brady. The more likely result is that Houston’s offense is stymied for the majority of the game by the brilliance of Bill Belichick’s defense, complete with a killer interception or two from Brock Osweiler. While I don’t expect special teams gaffes the likes of which we saw from Charles James and Tyler Ervin when these two teams met on Thursday Night Football back in September, I also don’t expect anything good from that unit from players not named Shane Lechler or Nick Novak. The most likely scenario is a double-digit Patriots win, with a chance it could get embarrassing for the Texans.
Chris: Patriots 30, Texans 23.
The Texans will get a late score to make the game seem respectable - and hey, I do think it will be respectable. I just think Romeo is too smart and too good for this to be a complete blowout - but maybe I’m not so much overestimating him as I am underestimating the opponent’s ability to SMASH people, even smart ones.
I will be interested to see how Bill O’Brien, specifically, plays this. He knows he can’t win being super-conservative because the Patriots are not going to get gashed in the run game. He knows he can’t win with Brock throwing it 50 times... I don’t know if that means a couple of gadgets get thrown out, or that they concentrate on getting the ball over the middle to C.J. Fiedorowicz and DeAndre Hopkins - I just don’t know.
I’m gonna have fun, have some drinks, and watch either an end to this WEIRD season, or the greatest win in the history of professional Houston football.
Capt. Ron: Texans 24, Patriots 20.
Based on the substantial and fairly consistent body of work throughout the season, there's very little evidence to support expectations of this Houston offense being able to do enough to win this game against New England. Even if we just consider the last eight games of the regular season after the bye week and last week's win over a depleted Raiders team, the Texans are only averaging 18.7 points per game. The Patriots allowed a league-best 15.6 points per game throughout the regular season. The reality is that Houston won't likely score 20 points or more on offense in this game.
The special teams unit also hasn't provided reason for optimism, as they finished dead last in the league. They can't seem to jam a gunner to save their life, and that affects the returner's concentration and ability to field the ball. Coverage has improved some, but it is still not as effective as it needs to be with so many missed tackles and bad lane discipline.
That puts ALL the pressure on Houston's defense to keep Tom Brady under duress. While they are certainly up to the task, it is far too often that their Herculean efforts at maintaining a close game against a good opponent is all for nothing later in the fourth quarter when fatigue sets in as the shortcomings of the offense and special teams takes a fatal and familiar toll.
If Houston can play mistake-free football in all three phases, Vegas will lose a ton of money as the Patriots won't cover the 16-point spread. Beyond not making mistakes, the only way Houston actually wins this game is if the offense somehow does something it hasn't done all year to catch Bill Belichick off-guard with creative and effective play calls and perfect execution.
Evidence and logic suggest that the Texans will lose this game 24 to 9 ("All Field Goal Offense!"). However, every once in a while, the world gets a Cinderella story out of nowhere, like the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team or David and Goliath. My heart says this could be one of those unlikely moments that galvanizes a team and their fans in a historic upset. The former apprentice bests his former master.
Luke Beggs: Patriots 31, Texans 13.
If the Texans win, I will print out and eat this prediction.
Titan Matt Weston, Slanderer of Blade Runner and a Huge Texas Rangers Fan: Patriots 31, Texans 20.
It will be close for the first half because Houston’s defense is really good. Then New England will break it open in the third, and Houston will score their gritty meaningless touchdowns to make the score seem closer than it really is.
MDC: Patriots 38, Texans 12.
You know the scene in Shawshank Redemption when the Sisters corner Andy Dufresne in the prison laundry and he's unable to fight them off?
Houston is Andy Dufresne. How do you put numbers on what happened to Andy’s butt?
BFmf’nD: Patriots 34, Texans 13.
Unless OFFENSIVE SUPERGENIUS Bill O'Brien has been trolling the NFL for the past 17 games (he hasn't), this game could be over quickly.
You see, dearest reader, BOB has a pattern: he gets blown out, he wins a couple in a row, and life is grand again. We are due for a serving of BOB's patented lifeless offense, and you can't do that against the Patriots.
We will, in stark contrast, see the difference between a competent NFL head coach and one way in over his head.
Battle Red Coat: My Head—Patriots 24, Texans 13. My Heart—Texans 18, Patriots 15.
I am almost certain we won't win this game. Not that I don't want them to, but I just can't see us having enough of a turnaround to even come close to TB12 and the Patriots.
Our offense was nearly shut down by the Patriots last time, and we couldn't help but turn the ball over to give the Patriots great field position and easy scores. Even without those turnovers, I don't think we do a whole lot with the ball on those possessions anyway.
TB12 gets rid of the ball quickly and throws dots all over the field. Our CBs have been great but they'll have to be on a different level to stop Brady.
Brock played well last week, but he’ll need to do more than that for us to have a chance. Or Lamar Miller needs to play out of his mind to set Brock up with some easy situations.
The Texans can't live with the Patriots in a shootout, and I can't see the defense stopping New England enough times to hold them to less than 15 points.
Mike Bullock: Texans 22, Patriots 21.
Romeo Crennel's defense does just enough to fluster Brady into an uncharacteristic game and then Belichick - trying to overcome what his mind tells him can't be happening - makes one of his "once in a 20 game span" total mental errors, allowing the Texans to take the lead inside the last minute. Brady marches the Pats down, but their kicker pushes it wide left as time expires...
Texans win! Texans win!
And then, I'll wake up...
UprootedTexan: Texans 20, Patriots 19.
I now contend that my dream was just a little off. The win will come in New England instead of at home. It will be a division round win instead of for the AFC title, but that's all that's changed. I'm standing by my prophecy, for better or for worse. Brock Osweiler has the day of his life, Tom Brady gets injured or something, and I predict New England’s offense has no answer for our defense.
I gotta be outta my mind.
kdentify: Patriots 21, Texans 13.
Friends at work have told me to keep hope alive that the Texans can win this game. I think everyone at the job is on bleach and tequila shots when I'm not paying attention.
The issue isn't the defense, because I think our defense can frustrate their offense. However, our offense frustrates our own defense and special teams, and the fact that we treat the end zone like it's forbidden fruit will come back to haunt us. The Patriots are a team that punish you for leaving points on the field, and the Texans have an offense that do just that.
Knowing these predictions mean nothing at all, I can see a couple of staffers are just throwing wins out there. We all know the reality - but hey, with this defense, all I can say is if the Patriots have an off game, the Texans have a chance. I wouldn’t bet a dime on it - but it is what it is.
Please use the comments to give your game predictions. Above all else - enjoy the hell out of this game because it may be our last and September is a long, long way away.