Maybe I’m the one not recalling exactly how that game went, but it sure seems like a lot of folks have a memory of the game being closer than it actually was. Yeah, the Texans “hung tough” for a while. So what? It’s the playoffs. “Hanging tough” for a while is the lowest of the sad, low bars. The end result was a blowout, and this narrative that the Texans’ defense “almost cracked the code” on Tom Brady and the Patriots is, frankly, hilarious to me.
Let’s see how the BRB staff sees this one going.
Tim: Patriots 28, Texans 14.
Although it's tempting as a Texans fan to point to how Houston's defense got to Tom Brady the last time these teams met in the playoffs, and to then chase that optimism with a tumbler full of Deshaun Watson neat, there are a few reasons for pessimism to win the day.
It's a road game. Even with extra rest after Thursday Night Football, the Texans are still banged up. Watson or not, there's no logical basis to believe the offense will be fixed to the point that it can compete with the Patriots. There's also the likelihood that Bill Belichick, in his well documented habit of taking away the one thing a team does best, doubles DeAndre Hopkins all day, forcing Watson to throw elsewhere, which...well, that probably is not going to work out for the Texans, given this receiving corps.
I'd love for the Texans to shock the NFL and for the legend of Deshaun Watson to continue to grow this weekend. I just don't see it happening.
Diehard Chris: Patriots 32, Texans 16.
Similar to the most recent playoff loss, the Texans’ defense hangs tough for a while, but in the end the losses of A.J. Bouye to free agency and Kevin Johnson to injury, plus the still “under construction” safety play, will cost the team some big plays. Zach Cunningham does his best to stop the bleeding of Houston’s linebacker matchup nightmares, but he can only do so much. The Patriots continue containing J.J. Watt. Houston just has to look at this as good experience for Deshaun Watson before moving on to the Titans.
Titan Matt Weston, Slanderer of Blade Runner and a Huge Fan of the Texas Rangers Who Were Curb Stomped and Left for Dead at the Hands of the Houston Astros in the American League West This Season: Patriots 31, Texans 9.
Kenneth L. (the FNG): Patriots 32, Texans 17.
Although we looked better, the Pats are on another world of football.
Luke Beggs: Patriots 36, Texans 6.
I bought a bottle of whiskey this week with this game in mind.
I don't know why the NFL keeps giving us this matchup. It's bad. It's always been bad.
Look, the Pats are going to ask the Texans ILBs to cover an endless slew of RBs who can split out wide and catch passes out of the backfield. The Pats also now have Brandin Cooks to employ against Kareem Jackson, who is notoriously bad at defending the deep ball.
Don't be surprised if the Patriots play four-man contain up front and force Watson to beat them from the pocket while doubling DeAndre Hopkins and essentially forcing the Texans to throw to someone else other than him.
MDC: Patriots 38, Texans 10.
Last week, I was among the brave, brilliant few who accurately predicted a Texans win. I chalk this up to my contrarian nature more than any actual knowledge or insight mind you, but whatever. It's therefore tempting to go that route again, since conventional wisdom thinks the Texans will lose this game.
I'm not going to do it, though. Picking against Cincinnati is one thing; assuming this dumpster fire of an offense can beat the Patriots is another. I think Watson gets another rushing TD, but gets picked off three times (one for a score). I think Brady shreds the Texans for 320 yards and 4 passing TDs. I think -- nay, I know -- I'll be drunk and angry way before the end of the game.
The most annoying thing? A nagging feeling that Belichick would beat BO'B if they traded teams in this matchup.
BFmf’nD: Patriots 37, Texans 9.
While Bill Belichick plays eleventy-dimensional chess with his team, Bill O'Brien is still figuring out the complexities of Tic Tac Toe. Throw in the defensive injuries and major mismatches, and I don't think this game will be pretty.
Mike Bullock: Patriots 34, Texans 10.
Brady's on another of his "dismantle the NFL ‘cause no one respects me" benders, Bill O'Brien has never come close to showing he can outwit Bill Belichick, and the Patriots are healthy while Houston is... well... not. Just praying Deshaun Watson doesn't end up joining the hospital ward formerly known as Houston’s tight end corps.
UprootedTexan: Patriots 37, Texans 13.
The offense just doesn't have the firepower to keep up with the Pats and the defense tires out sometime in the third quarter after keeping it competitive for the first half.
Capt. Ron: Texans 24, Patriots 21.
Looks like I drew the short straw this week, as at least one of us has to break in favor of the good guys. There is every reason to surrender all hope. Bad special teams and offensive line, rookie QB in second start on the road, coaching mismatch, critical star player holdout (Duane Brown), star suspension (Brian Cushing), injury-riddled receiving corpse (heh, corpse...WR & TE), and banged-up secondary.
That's all completely worthy of logical and emotional surrender, but football is a sport where an underdog can take down Goliath with just the right spark. That's why we keep at it year after year. I can see J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, D.J. Reader, Benardrick McKinney, and Zach Cunningham jacking up Brady early and often under Mike Vrabel's relentless assault. I can see Deshaun Watson flashing his instinctive and dynamic star power along with DeAndre Hopkins and D’Onta Foreman. I can see the Texans rising up against all odds and making a statement against last year's champs, because screw the Patriots. I can see a missed field goal by New England as time expires dropping their hopes to go into overtime.
There you have it. Ron ruined the clean sweep, but I’m not going to take shots at him, the drunk.
Feel free to criticize and criminalize the thoughts above and/or give your game predictions in the comments below. I hope I’m wrong. I hope we’re all wrong.