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Texans-Patriots Preview: Match-Ups, Storylines

Two glimpses of a Texans-Patriots preview.

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New England Patriots Vs. Houston Texans at NRG Stadium Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

It’s only Thursday? Saturday needs to get here already so I can write “SIX THINGS To Watch For” and know exactly what’s going on in this weekend’s Texans-Patriots game. Since that game preview is a long and arduous process, a real hero’s journey, we aren’t privy to having it completed until the weekend.

In the meantime, Pro Football Focus has a short preview for every game entering Week Five. This is what they had to say about this week’s Texans v. Patriots game:

Matchup to watch: RG Shaq Mason vs. DI Maliek Collins

One of the biggest positive takeaways from Houston’s start to the season has been the pass-rushing contributions from players like Collins — one of four Texans defensive linemen with a pass-rushing grade north of 75.0 through four weeks.

There’s a chance Collins could create some disruption on the interior as a pass-rusher, but Mason has a clear upper hand in the run game. He ranks in the 95th percentile of guards in positively graded run blocks since 2016, while Collins ranks in just the first percentile of interior defensive linemen in run-defense grade over that same time frame.

Biggest Storyline: All signs point to an unpleasant afternoon for Davis Mills

The “Bill Belichick against rookie quarterbacks” narrative has already been beaten into the ground. Just to bury it down there a little bit further, rookie quarterbacks have combined for a 64.3 passer rating against the Patriots since 2010. And Mills falls on the low end of the rookie quarterback spectrum after his first few NFL appearances.

Mills hasn’t been thrust into the best situation in Houston, but the third-round selection has managed just a 53.7 passing grade from a clean pocket. That’s the lowest mark among qualifiers by 10 points.

Collins has been a fine interior pass rusher. He’s also an example of why pressures are overrated. He’s had some beautiful pass rush moves that create a free path, but they don’t actually affect the play. A quick spin, the ball is out quick, another spin, but the guard pushes him up the pocket. I’d rather see Ross Blacklock. Shaq Mason still has it. The hole on New England’s offensive line is at right tackle. Maybe Jacob Martin and Charles Omenihu will finally do something this season.

Mills has been bad, and playing against this Patriots pass defense is another tough matchup. New England should blitz plenty since they play a lot of man coverage. This means Mills staring down Brandin Cooks against J.C Jackson or Jalen Mills. If Cooks isn’t open, the blitz will grab Mills.

Take this is a snippet, an appetizer, a horse diver, until this Saturday, when the real preview hits.