Texans RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England
Lamar Miller is the workhorse for the Texans running game. He’s healthy after missing the final two regular-season games and carried 31 times last week in the win over Oakland. He gained 1073 yards on the season with five touchdowns and the Texans averaged 116.2 yards per game, good for 8th in the league.
The Patriots had the 3rd best rushing defense in 2016 allowing just 88.6 yards per game. Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, and Vincent Valentine were very solid up front stopping the run at the point of attack allowing the linebackers, especially Dont’a Hightower to clean up and making plays.
This is the key to the game from a Texans perspective, they need Miller to have a big game and keep the pressure off their very limited passing game. If they keep the third downs to manageable levels, they’ll have a puncher’s chance. If they get in frequent third and long situations, it will be a long evening.
Texans WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England
Brock Osweiler was supposed to be the Houston franchise QB. They signed him to a big $72 million dollar contract this spring but things haven’t worked out. He struggled and was benched for Tom Savage. But a concussion has brought him back to the starter’s slot and he played well last week against the Raiders.
He has a great weapon in DeAndre Hopkins who is Houston’s leading receiver with 78 catches for 954 yards and 4 TDs in 2016. With injuries to other WRs, the production for speedster Will Fuller dropped off late in the season. Osweiler has two good tight ends in C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin who each had 50 catches this year.
The Patriots secondary play improved over the second half of the season, and they’ll look to throw different schemes at Osweiler to confuse him and make him throw an ill-advised pass or two into contested lanes. Houston was 29th in passing yards this season averaging just 198.5 yards per game.
The Patriots will try to bracket Hopkins with a corner and safety help over the top. Osweiler’s best bet is to try to work the underneath routes to the two tight ends and not to force the issue with Hopkins. Turnovers are key here as New England forced 14 during the last six weeks of the season. Houston averaged just 17.4 points per game, they can ill-afford to be giving Tom Brady and the Pats offense a short field.
Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski shook off a shaky start to the season to finish strong down the stretch hitting on 27 of 32 field goals on the season. Ryan Allen had a solid season averaging net 41.7 yards per punt and put 23 of them inside the 20-yard line with just five touchbacks.
Houston’s coverage units were awful in 2015, which is why they hired former Patriots STs maven Larry Izzo as their ST’s Coordinator. They continued to struggle during the season and their punt and kickoff coverage units ranked 28th and 29th respectively. Shane Lechler had a good season punting the ball and Kicker Nick Novak had 127 points, 2nd highest of his career, hitting on 35 of 41 field goal attempts including 3 of 6 from 50+ yards.
Next up, who wins and why…
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