WHEN : Saturday, January 14th 8:15 p.m. (EST)
WHERE : Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Brady and Belichick, two names that strikes fear in the souls of teams across the NFL. This dynamic duo is looking to make history once again, this time by winning their fifth Super Bowl. Standing in their way this week are the Houston Texans. Houston enters with a 9-7 record, and the AFC South division title. They earned a spot in the Divisional round by defeating the Oakland Raiders by a score of 27-14. The Texans defense played a key role in the victory, forcing three interceptions. Turnovers will be hard to come by this week however, as Tom Brady has only thrown two interceptions all season.
Its not a mystery as to why the Patriots are so successful. After serving a four game suspension, Brady was still able to throw for over 3,500 yards, 28 touchdowns, and a rating of 112 this season. The Pats rank fourth in the league in passing yardage, and third in points scored, averaging just over 27 points per game. The Patriots also feature a prominent rushing attack headed by LeGarrette Blount. Blount’s power rushing style has propelled him to 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Their receiving corp is made up of quick hitting receivers, that are always capable of making a big play. Julian Edelman leads the group, but two of the most effective receivers come from the backfield. Dion Lewis and James White have combined for over 600 receiving yards this year and 77 receptions. White has also added five touchdowns to his stat line. One of the Patriots most talented players, Rob Gronkowski, went down with a back injury in week 12 that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Stepping up in his absence was Martellus Bennett, who has been more than a measly replacement. Bennett has scored 7 times this season, and tallied over 700 receiving yards. The Texans’ defense ranks second in the league in passing yards allowed per game, but the Patriots rarely have trouble putting up big numbers, no matter who their opponent might be.
These two teams faced off in week 3, and Houston had major problems. The Texans were shut out 27-0, and to make that score sting a little more, The Pats were without Tom Brady. They had three turnovers in the loss, and were only able to produce 280 yards of total offense. If the Texans are going to compete with the Patriots this week, Brock Osweiler is going to have to step up. He’s averaging under 200 yards per game, which ranks 28th in the league. The Patriots pass defense is just above average, so a good day from Brock is definitely doable.
The Texans do have a productive rushing attack. Lamar Miller is a top 10 back in the league, rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2016. Last week against the Raiders, he ran for 73 yards and a touchdown. A win or loss against the Patriots is going to come down to what the Texans do on offense. Their defense is fantastic, ranking 1st in the league in yards allowed per game, but their offense struggles immensely. If the Texans’ offense can move the ball consistently on the ground, and they get some sort of production from their young quarterback, they can compete with Brady and Belichick.
MY PREDICTION : As much as I love a Cinderella story, I have to take the Patriots in this one. When it comes down to the playoffs, it is very difficult to go against Tom Brady. The men in Vegas think the Patriots are the heavy favorite, giving New England a -15 line. I think the score will be tighter than that, finishing at 20-13. The Texans will hold back the Patriots powerful offense to the best of their ability, but I just don’t see Brock Osweiler leading his team to the promised land. The Patriots will move on to the AFC championship, and the Texans will shift focus to solving their quarterback controversy.