The Houston Texans (2-7) host the New England Patriots (4-5) Sunday at noon at NRG Stadium. The last time these teams met was, believe it or not, less than a year ago in Week 13 right here in Houston, Texas. Bill O’Brien was a Texan, DeAndre Hopkins was a Texan, Tom Brady was a Patriot, and the Patriots had a bunch of guys who had “the flu” right before the Coronavirus exploded into a
hoax global pandemic. Oh, and the Texans whooped the Patriots 28-22 on Sunday Night Football in a game that didn’t seem as close as the score indicated.
My, my, how things have changed. I will now stop before the urge for vengeance rises up.
Matt Weston: Patriots 27, Texans 23.
The Patriots don’t play football. They play rugby now. They’re going to run the ball 45 times a game. They’ll run power, outside zone, counter, zone read, zone counter, lead, and that screwed up play where Cam Newton fakes the boot leg and turns the corner with pin-pull action. Cam may attempt one pass that goes farther than 15 yards all afternoon. Bradley Roby will be a litmus test for how good Jakobi Meyers really is.
The Patriots don’t have a true difference maker on their front seven. Chase Winovich is the closest thing to one. J.C. Jackson picks everything off, but you can beat him on vertical routes when he’s an outside cornerback. The McCourty Twins can be picked on. Stephon Gilmore was out the last two weeks and hasn’t been the typical DPOTY player he is.
Houston is last in run offense DVOA. Every time they run the ball, it’s a waste of life. If they spread things out and let Watson be Watson, they could outscore New England.
But it’s still the Texans. They no longer have a great run defense they can rely on. It’s atrocious. Even without Bill O’Brien around, the Texans still suffer from fatal offensive design flaws. I’m taking New England’s coaching staff and New England’s offensive line and run game over the slop Houston has put on the field this season.
Chris: Patriots 23, Texans 20.
The Patriots will run all over Houston on Sunday. The Texans have a chance to do some damage on offense, but that’s also what I thought would happen against the Browns. So I’m back in “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode with this offense. I just do not understand how an offense with this many weapons can go as silent as it does so often.
Bad weather in Cleveland - please - this is not high school football. You don’t get a pass for that BS. I think the Patriots will grind out a win against Houston similar to the Cleveland game, but with slightly less interminable boredom.
l4blitzer: Patriots 24, Texans 16.
Admittedly, the current New England Patriots are not the New England Patriots of old. Tom Brady is gone, a significant number of key defensive personnel opted out of the season, and this late in the year, the Patriots are not in first place in the AFC East and is under .500 for the first time in nearly 20 years. You could be excused for thinking that this could be as winnable a game against New England as could be had in the history of the Texans organization.
However, you have to look at the Texans. New England is not their old selves, but they can run the football with Cam Newton and their stable of running backs, and the Houston Texans have shown that they lack the ability to consistently stop the run, especially in the 4th quarter of games. Belichick may lack his long-time quarterback, but he is no less dangerous a coach. If nothing else, he will not get away from exploiting the weaknesses of his opponents to the maximum extent possible. For the Texans, that means we should expect a heavy does of running plays and better executed play-action passing.
Perhaps if the Texans can actually mitigate the run on defense like they did for parts of the game against Cleveland, and the offense can regain some of its big-play passing capabilities, the Texans might have a chance on Sunday. However, unless Watson can approach God Mode, I don’t think the demoralized and faltering Texans can realistically expect to get their second straight win over New England. Perhaps the biggest drama in the game will be if Jack Easterby tries to once again approach Nick Caserio about the GM position in Houston at some point Sunday afternoon. Surreptitiously, of course.
bfMFd: Patriots 27, Texans 23.
The Texans’ run defense really showed up against the Browns...until the second half. Does that happen again this week?
I think no. It was a fluky performance, and the defensive will be gashed repeatedly. The Texans score 22 points a game, so there’s no reason to think that will be different.
The 2020 Texans are the lovechild of the Browns and the Lions. Go BOB!
Mike: Patriots 38, Texans 17.
At this juncture, I’ve lost all faith in the 2020 Houston Texans, and it would be the most Bill O’Brien era Texans thing ever to get destroyed by the most beatable New England Patriots this century. I can’t recall a time when Romeo Crennel ever outcoached Bill Belichick, and it won’t happen this weekend. Anthony Weaver won’t suddenly have the defense able to stop the run. Tim Kelly won’t call enough smart plays to put Deshaun Watson in position to win enough downs to get over the hump.
2-8, here we come.
Kenneth L.: Patriots 24, Texans 17.
A lot has changed since the last time these two teams played. The Patriots had only one loss and had Tom Brady at the helm, while the Texas were led by O’Brien and Hopkins’ hands.
The Texans’ offense has come to a screeching halt in the past couple weeks. The run game is miserable. The receivers don’t seem to be on sync with Watson. The offensive line hasn’t made the expected improvements. It doesn’t look any better on the defensive side either. They are in the mid-to-high 20s in every statistical category.
This isn’t the Patriots that we know and hate, but they are still a formidable team with a star QB. I don’t expect the Texans to get off the ground on Sunday.
Tim: Patriots 23, Texans 21.
Perhaps I was a week early in predicting the game where Deshaun Watson would single-handedly carry his team to victory. More likely, however, is that this is simply a bad Texans squad that will lose to a team that’s not necessarily more talented but simply better coached. That’s not an indictment of Romeo Crennel and his staff; it’s merely recognizing that Bill Belichick is the best to ever do it and the Texans’ defense is so dolorous that it’s unreasonable to ask them to play something resembling winning football, especially when that would require a modicum of success stopping the run.
Damien Harris will run wild, and there’s nothing the Texans can do to stop him.
Buckle up for... um, something? Do you gamble? Hammer the over on New England rushing yards!*
Above all else, we only have 16 games in a season, and who knows how that could change - so enjoy the game with friends and family at the start of this holiday season.
*I am not a gambling expert, though I have plenty of experience with bad decision-making.