Tag Archives: Carlos Hyde

Patriots 2019 Opponents, The Texans Are a Familiar Foe

Steve Balestrieri
November 28, 2019 at 6:57 am ET

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a quick look at the Patriots’ next opponent, the Houston Texans while you wait for your turkey to cook. 

The Patriots head back out on the road this week for a prime-time game against the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football. At 10-1, the Patriots own the #1 seed in the AFC and still hold a two-game lead of the Bills in the division. 

The Texans are a familiar foe and it seems like they are almost a divisional opponent. The two teams have faced each other at least once in the past five seasons and former NE offensive coordinator and Texans coach Bill O’Brien conducted joint practices with the Patriots in 2017. 

So the familiarity and respect are there on both sidelines as the two teams meet up again.

Prime Time Watson Something to Watch:

John McClain the Texans’ outstanding beat writer penned a very intriguing piece on Houston QB Deshaun Watson this week and his ability to turn it on in prime time games. Watson has appeared in seven prime time games in his career and is 5-2 in those contests. 

Watson has tossed 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His quarterback rating is 118.6. Also included in those games, he’s rushed for 272 yards with three more touchdowns. And this week, under the bright lights, Watson and the Texans will be playing at home. 

Bill Belichick spoke about Watson early this week and the difficulties of trying to match up against Watson on Sunday night.

“He’s very, very good,” Belichick said. “He’s a very accurate downfield passer. He’s made some great throws on double-moves, seam routes, post patterns, go routes, things like that.

“And, of course, we all know he’s a very athletic guy with the ball in his hands. He can score from anywhere at any time. It’ll be a big challenge for us for 60 minutes. Any game’s a long way from being over if he has his hands on the ball.”

Big Three (Watson, Hopkins, Fuller) Present a Difficult Opponent :

The Houston offense features Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller presenting a very difficult trio to defend against. Fuller has had injury problems in his career and is nursing a balky hamstring right now. But when he’s in the lineup, opponents can’t focus on just stopping the outstanding Hopkins outside. 

In the last three seasons, the Houston offense has had that trio on the field for only 19 games. But in those games, they’ve lit it up offensively, averaging 28.6 points and nearly 400 yards of offense. 

And Watson’s numbers? (Courtesy of McClain) In those 19 games, Watson has thrown 45 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. He’s completed 8.8 yards per attempt, and his rating is 104.2. Hopkins has 124 receptions for 1,715 yards and 17 touchdowns. Fuller has 86 receptions for 1,372 yards and 14 touchdowns. Besides the big three, Watson also has Kenny Stills, TEs Darren Fells, and Jordan Akins as well as Duke Johnson out of the backfield. 

The Patriots secondary which has been nothing short of outstanding this season faces another big challenge this week. 

Revamped Running Game Is Playing Well:

Houston has a new 1-2 punch at running back with Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde replacing the tandem the Patriots saw in Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue. Houston has had very good balance this season churning out 136.9 yards per game, good for 7th in the league. 

Hyde has rushed the ball 174 times for 836 yards, good for a 4.8-yards per rushing attempt with 4 touchdowns. Johnson has rushed 65 times for 349 yards (5.4-yard avg) with a touchdown. Watson has rushed for 301 yards on 58 rushes (5.2-yard avg) with a team-leading 5 rushing touchdowns.

Hyde is the early-down back and getting the lion’s share of the rushes with Johnson coming in for third downs and getting more of the receptions out of the backfield. Watson is a threat to make plays with his feet at any time. 

Texans Defense Missing Clowney, Watt Down the Stretch: 

The Texans’ defense has been middle of the road to slightly below in most defensive categories in 2019. Houston has allowed 22.6 points a game, which is 17th in the league. On the ground they’re allowing 108.0 yards per game, also 17th while through the air, opponents are getting 259.3 yards per game passing which is 25th in the league.

They really miss Jadeveon Clowney who is now in Seattle as well as J.J. Watt who is on IR in their pass rush. Their strength remains the linebackers,  Whitney Mercilus, Bernardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham, Bill Belichick called them among the best in the NFL. 

They’ve also made changes in the secondary. CB Jonathan Joseph and S Justin Reed remain but now they’ve got Bradley Roby at the other corner slot and Tashaun Gipson at safety. 

We’ll have our keys to the game and key matchups later tomorrow. Stay tuned… 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.


Patriots – 49ers Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
November 18, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots attempt to get back on the winning track as they travel out to the Bay Area of California and take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET and will be the Patriots first visit to Levi Stadium which only opened in 2014. This will also mark the first visit to SF for QB Tom Brady who grew up in the area and was a Niners fan.

This week’s game will be televised by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. Greg Gumble will handle play-by-play duties with Trent Green as the color analyst. Jamie Erdahl will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (7-2) came off their bye week and dropped a tough but entertaining contest with the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 on SNF. The Pats had troubles with their defense and stopping Russell Wilson who passed for three touchdowns. LeGarrette Blount ran for three scores for the Pats.

The 49ers (1-8) lost to the Arizona Cardinals 23-20 on a last-minute field goal. Although QB Colin Kaepernick tied the score with a TD run in the final two minutes, the Niners couldn’t stop the Cards and dropped their eighth game in a row.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and 49ers meet for the 13th time on Sunday. The Niners hold an 8-4 advantage all-time against the Patriots including a 4-1 record at home. Three of those games were held at the venerable Candlestick Park and one held at Stanford.  The Patriots have won three of the last four meetings between

The last time these two teams met was in a Sunday Night Football matchup in a cold, wet, rainy Foxboro. Colin Kaepernick threw for four touchdowns and the Niners prevailed 41-34.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2016 Opponents, 5 First Impressions of the 49ers

Steve Balestrieri
November 15, 2016 at 11:49 am ET

Niners Trying to Find a Spark With Chip Kelly

The Patriots head out to the West Coast after an entertaining but disappointing loss to the Seahawks on Sunday night. They’ll be taking on Chip Kelly, Colin Kaepernick, and the San Francisco 49ers. This will be the first time in his 17-year career that Tom Brady will play in front of his hometown, where he watched as a fan of Joe Montana.

The Patriots (7-2), played just well enough to lose to the Seahawks 31-24. They were sloppy with the football and turned over the ball twice and nearly had two more. The defense played soft and was picked apart by Russell Wilson. But they still nearly pulled even when they had four shots at a tying score in the final minute of the game before being stopped.

The still have a two-game lead in the division over the Dolphins who are 5-4 and are coming together and have won four in a row. The Pats are now tied for the best record in the AFC with KC and Oakland but hold the tiebreaker for the time being.

The Niners (1-8) lost on a last-minute field goal to the Arizona Cardinals 23-20. Colin Kaepernick had tied the score at 20 with a scramble and a four-yard touchdown run with just under two minutes to go. The Niners have now dropped eight straight.

Here are our Five First Impressions of the 49ers:

Kaepernick is Catching on to Chip Kelly’s System: The QB for at least the near future seems to be Colin Kaepernick for San Francisco. And after a rocky start in his first two games, he’s gaining confidence and a sense of comfort in Chip Kelly’s system.

In his last two games, he’s completed 41 of 69 passes for 608 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. And he can still scramble, in those last two games Kaepernick has run 15 times for 78 yards.

The past two weeks, unlike his nightmarish season a year ago, Kaepernick slid in the pocket away from pressure when he needed to, kept his eyes downfield and hit his targets. He’s always had a cannon for an arm and made strong, decisive, and above all, accurate throws to keep the chains moving.

And yes, he is another scrambling QB that type that typically gives the Patriots and Bill Belichick fits. With two minutes to go, Kaepernick scrambled on a read option play while facing a 3rd and 2 and rolled into the end zone for the tying score.

Before Patriots fans, pooh-pooh the idea that he can operate against them, one should recall the cold, wet December night in Gillette in 2012. Kaepernick and the Niners put up 41 points on the Patriots in a 41-34 win. He completed 14-25 for 221 yards and four touchdowns of 24, 27, 34 and 38 yards with one pick against the Patriots defense that night. He also scrambled seven times for 28 yards.

Run Defense is Horrible: The Niners have statistically the worst run defense in the NFL. Opponents have run the ball 317 times already against them for 1624 yards, good for a 5.1-yard average. The Niners are allowing a whopping 180.4 yards per game.

This may be good news for LeGarrette Blount and James White on Sunday as the Patriots will look to re-ignite their running game and keep the balance that they’ve enjoyed thus far this season.

But last week on the road against Arizona, there was also room for some confidence moving forward. The 49ers had allowed seven 100-yard rushers during the first eight weeks of the season. Facing the dangerous David Johnson who had gashed them for 157 yards in the first meeting, San Francisco held him to just 55 yards on 19 carries. And they held Arizona to just 80 yards rushing total, a full 100-yards off their season average. Just something to consider.

Kelly Has Eye to the Future: The Niners are a long way off from being a competitor for a playoff berth but with two good draft picks on the defense in Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, things are trending in the right direction. They have a way to go, but with the draft in the spring and perhaps the QB position being solidified behind an already good running game [more to that below], the Niners may be trending upward.

After losing their previous seven games by an average of more than 17 points, San Francisco played a tough football game and fought to the end, before just barely bowing by three to the Cardinals. While there are no “moral victories”, the team showed that they haven’t quit and are still putting in the effort for Kelly.

They’d love nothing better than to get off the schnide against the Patriots, in a game, that no one will be expecting them to win. Expect them to play hard in this one as they’ll look for a signature win on Sunday.

Niners Have a Good Running Game: San Francisco had done a very solid job of running the football in 2016. Carlos Hyde leads a group that also consists of Mike Davis, Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris, and QB Colin Kaepernick.

They are averaging 119.7 yards per game which is good for 7th in the NFL this season. Obviously, having Kaepernick back in the pocket helps the overall offense as teams must respect his ability to scramble and keep the chains moving.

Hyde is the team’s leading rusher with 443 yards and six touchdowns on 122 carries. He was just coming off a shoulder injury last week in Arizona and wasn’t his normal self, being held to just 14 yards on 13 attempts. If they want to pull an upset on the Patriots this Sunday, they’ll have to get their running game going and keep the Patriots defense closer to the box.

Phil Dawson About to Join Select Group: San Francisco kicker Phil Dawson is about to join rare company. He currently has made 399 field goals in his very solid if underrated career and his next, his 400th will mark him as only the ninth player in NFL history to make 400 or more.

Despite playing most of his career in the football equivalent of Siberia in Cleveland, he’s been remarkably steady and has a higher field goal percentage than any of the eight players that are ahead of him.

Dawson has made 11 of his 12-field goal tries in 2016. His only miss was a 53-yarder in Seattle in Week 3. His field goal accuracy in his career is a stellar 84.6 percent which is better than Adam Vinatieri. He’s made all 18 extra points. At the age of 41, he’s having one of the best years of his 14-year career despite the lack of chances. By comparison, the Philadelphia Eagles kickers have attempted 27 field goals this season.

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.