On Sunday the New England Patriots will welcome the Houston Texans for the second time in five weeks. Back in week 14 the Patriots offense embarrassed the respected Texans defense putting up 419 yards and 42 points. Quarterback Tom Brady went 21 for 35 for 296 yards and four touchdowns. When the two teams face off again Sunday the Patriots offensive line will have to be ready because the Texans defense will be looking for revenge.
Houston possesses one of the best defensive lines in the league. They finished the season ranked fifth in sacks with 44 or 2.75 a game. They also have the league’s leader in sacks in J.J. Watt who finished the regular season with 20.5 sacks which tied him for sixth all-time, just two behind the NFL record set by Michael Strahan.
The Texans this season have prided themselves at being able to get to the quarterback. And back in week 14, going up against a young Patriots offensive line, they expected to be able to pressure Brady all night. But the line held and Brady had one of his most successful games of the season. The only sack the Texans got was in the third quarter by rookie defensive end Whitney Mercilus. Watt, who averaged more than a sack a game, never got a full grip on Brady.
Coming into their rematch with Brady’s Patriots, the blitz happy Texans will be looking for revenge on the opposing offensive line. Luckily for the Patriots that loss in early December set the Texans on a tailspin that sent them from the one seed to the three seed and gave the Patriots a bye week. That week off has given the Patriots a chance to get healthy which includes three important offensive linemen. With all three having missed time due to injury this year Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins, and Dan Connolly will all be playing on Sunday.
One of the key matchups that will decide the outcome of the game will be between the now healthy Patriots offensive line and the Texans angry defensive line. Whoever wins that battle will likely send their team the AFC championship game. It’ll be a tough test for the Patriots offensive line to keep hold of Watt and his linemates and one they must pass to advance to a second consecutive AFC championship game.