By Danny Cox
The season wasn’t supposed to start off the way it did, but the New England Patriots were able to get back to their winning ways against the New Orleans Saints this past Sunday. As for their Week 3 opponent, they did the exact same thing with a loss in the season opener and a rebound victory in Week 2. However this is not the same Houston Texans team that the NFL has witnessed over the last few years.
Houston Texans Season Record: 1-1
Houston took a pretty big defeat in the season opener as the Jacksonville Jaguars routed them by the score of 29-7, but there were still season-long decisions being made in that game. Tom Savage was taken out and rookie Deshaun Watson took over at quarterback to lead them to a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals this past weekend.
Texans On Offense
The Texans are working with more of a rushing attack than they have had in quite a while and the reason behind it is rather simple. Watson has been thrust into the role of starting quarterback and he’s working with a group of pass-catchers that don’t really have a lot of skill, unless your name is DeAndre Hopkins.
That is why New England has to be very cautious of who is in the offensive backfield and where they are at all times. Lamar Miller didn’t look like a superstar against the Bengals, but he did play better than the previous week. At the same time, you have D’onta Foreman picking up some extra yardage and a QB like Watson who can take off sprinting when you least expect it.
Texans On Defense
After watching the opening game against the Jags, the Texans didn’t appear to have much to showcase on the defensive side of the ball. Things picked up a little against the Bengals, but players such as J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney still haven’t had their names called much through the first two weeks of the season.
This is going to be an interesting matchup as the Patriots know how to light up the scoreboard while, on paper, the Texans don’t give up a lot of yards. It wasn’t as if they needed to against Jacksonville, as the offense turned the ball over four times and gave the Jags a short field most of the time.
Still, Tom Brady’s main focus shall be on the front seven of Houston’s defense as they are the most dangerous.
Texans Players To Watch: QB Deshaun Watson and LB Benardrick McKinney
Despite having a few players that will need to be spied on throughout the game, it is Deshaun Watson who needs to be focused on by the Patriots’ defense. He is ever-dangerous with his legs, but he can chuck the ball when given the chance. Watson is an elusive player who can attack you in numerous ways, and the Pats don’t have a lot of tape to watch on the rookie, which could lead to him pulling out a few tricks that no one even knows he has.
The same can be said for third-year linebacker Benardrick McKinney, who is leading the team in sacks right now with two through the first two games. Only one other player on the team has any sacks at all, and McKinney is raising the bar by leading the team in tackles (17) as well. He’s very quick off the ball at the left inside position, and he’s a pure ballhawk who always knows how to locate where it is on the field.
It’s not out of the question for the New England Patriots to win their second straight game. The defense did a good job of shutting down Drew Brees early and frustrating him the rest of the game. Tom Brady and the offense opened things up and ran like the well-oiled machine that so many have come to know. A win is something that should be attainable, but the uncertainty of what rookie Deshaun Watson is capable of doing won’t make it a walk in the park.