Patriots – Texans Divisional Playoffs, Keys to the Game
Patriots RBs vs Texans Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Houston
The Patriots running game made big improvements in 2016 and rushed for 117.0 yards a game, good for 7th best in the NFL. LeGarrette Blount had a fantastic season rushing for 1161yards and an NFL-best 18 touchdowns. With Dion Lewis and James White rounding things out, the Pats have a three-headed attack that they can mix things up with.
The Texans, even without J.J. Watt for most of the season were good at stopping the run. They allowed just 99.7 yards per game, 12th in the NFL. ILB Benardrick McKinney was lauded this week by Bill Belichick this week as one of the better inside backers in the league. He was immense in Week 3 logging 16 tackles. With Clowney and Vince Wilfork as well as Whitney Mercilus and McKinney, the Texans can be tough against the run.
This will be a week where the Patriots set up the running game by using the short passing game to get them untracked. They’ll mix things up and try to keep the Texans defense off-balance. Blount and Lewis will still get plenty of carries and the Patriots will want Blount for the second half, where if things go according to plan, they’ll use him as the closer.
Patriots WRs vs Texans Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots passing game was clicking as soon as Brady came back from his suspension in Week 5. They have a plethora of weapons, even without Rob Gronkowski and now get Danny Amendola back healthy for the playoffs. Julian Edelman is the guy who does the dirty work down low and across the middle and is Brady’s go-to guy. He caught 98 passes for 1106 yards.
Houston has the #2 pass defense in the league allowing just 201.6 yards per game. They can bring pressure with Clowney, Mercilus and McKinney and have a good secondary with Jonathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, and A.J. Bouye at the corners.
Look for the Patriots to make the Texans linebackers play in space by using the running backs White and Lewis as well as TE Martellus Bennett in forcing them into mismatches. Edelman, Amendola, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and newcomer Michael Floyd give Brady the deepest WR core he’s had since he’s been with the Pats.
The key as always is Brady’s protection, Clowney will line up most against Nate Solder and it will be interesting to see if he can handle the big man one-on-one. Houston DC Romeo Crennel will try to show one look pre-snap and shift to another after the snap to confuse Brady. Crennel may move Clowney around a bit, trying to find a mismatch, similar to what they do with Watt.
This is a good pass defense but the Patriots passing game has too many weapons for the Texans to cover. Someone will get open, and it is going to be up to Brady to find them and keep the chains moving.
Next up the Houston offense:
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2016 NFL playoffs 2016 Patriots playoffs 2016 Patriots season Benardrick McKinney Bill O'Brien Brock Osweiler C.J. Fiedorowicz Chris Hogan Danny Amendola DeAndre Hopkins Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower Houston Texans Jabaal Sheard Jadaveon Clowney Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Lamar Miller Malcolm Butler Martellus Bennett New England Patriots NFL Patriots Rob Gronkowski Romeo Crennel Ryan Griffin Tom Brady Trey Flowers Whitney Mercilus Will Fuller