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Battle Red Balls: Divisional Round (Texans v. Patriots)

Predicting which Texans will stand out against the Patriots long before the ball is even snapped at Gillette Stadium.

“Will, will you marry me?” Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Today is the day.

The one you’ve been waiting for all week. All year. All your ever loving’ life!

Today is the day your Houston Texans roll into Gillette Stadium to settle the score with the New England Patriots.

It’s the day Luke Skywalker faces Darth Vader.

In seven short hours, the Texans will have their chance to prove to the entire football watching world that they deserve a spot on the big stage.

In anticipation of the glorious outcome, your beloved masthead is handing out preemptive game balls to the stars of tonight’s game, long before it’s even played, right here.

Right now.


Offense: DeAndre Hopkins. He was always going to get targets, and now I'm hopeful that we'll see him more in the slot and working the middle of the field, since it's obvious that's where Brock Osweiler is most comfortable throwing the ball. Nuk finds the end zone at Gillette Stadium this week.

Defense: Whitney Mercilus. I expect Bill Belichick to focus on taking Jadeveon Clowney out of the game, so Mercilus will have his chances. He'll take advantage of them, sacking Tom Brady once and adding another TFL to boot.

Diehard Chris:

Offense: Will Fuller. Not that he'll excel, but that he is one that NEEDS to if the Texans are going to win, because they will need some chunk plays in this game to have a shot. The Pats will do their thing against Hopkins, and the Texans’ average running game is likely to be, well, average.

Defense: Benardrick McKinney. I think the Pats are going to run a TON in this game and McKinney is going to have a monster game helping to contain Blount, who has 18 rushing TDs (and I want to say 10-11 from the one yard line).


Offense: This is more of a special teams one, but Tyler Ervin. Yes, that Tyler Ervin. In the biggest game of his career, Ervin undoes the wrong he created last time and takes a return to the house, helping cement Houston’s lead and turning the tide of momentum in the Texans’ favor.

Defense: My man Clowney. When so many people were ignorantly calling him a bust, I knew he was gonna rise up. Now Tom Brady gets to see it happen from the front row as Giants fans yell, “Hit him again!” every time Clowney blasts Tom.

Capt. Ron:

Offense: C.J. Fiedorowicz will be the key mismatch against the Patriots’ linebackers, and he'll even have local fans thinking Gronk flipped sides with the enemy.

Defense: Jadeveon Clowney will put an exclamation point on an outstanding season, even with Belichick's best efforts at trying to eliminate him from the tilt.

Matt Weston:

Offense: Will Fuller. You can throw down the sideline against New England and Osweiler will have time. If he gets it close, magic could happen.

Defense: Romeo Crennel. Wade Phillips' game plan was incredible last year to beat the Patriots. Even if Crennel doesn't quite have the horses Wade did, he'll need to have a great master plan to hold them to 20 points.


Offense: Tom Brady. What's that? I have to pick a Texan? Oh. Fine. Um...Lamar Miller. If we're pretending that Houston wins this game, Miller will go off for 275 yards and four TDs. Solid game.

Defense: Jadeveon Clowney. Eight sacks, two INTs, and three dead offensive linemen. A/K/A just barely enough for Houston to win.

Uprooted Texan:

Offense: DeAndre Hopkins. I know, I know. I've seen Brock Osweiler throw a football before. But the "patriots" pass defense isn't all that great, and if anybody can pull off a miracle catch to seal an improbable win, it's Nuk.

Defense: Jadeveon Clowney, this is your moment. Sure, you've been feasting on average to bad defensive lines, and you've looked outstanding doing so, but now you've got a real test ahead of you. If Clowney can do against the "patriots" line what he did against Oakland's, maybe we have a shot. Maybe. Sorta.


Offense: Nuk. If we're going to win this game, Brock is going to have to get the ball to Nuk successfully (meaning, without causing a turnover). If that doesn't happen, we're essentially doomed.

Defense: Clowney. This is his time to shine and make this his defense entirely (well, until a certain workout freak from Wisconsin returns to town). We have heard time and again how he's a generational player. We'll need him to show that skillset to win this game.

There you have it, folks. Now, let us know who gets your balls in the comments below.