Texans at Patriots: 2013 NFL Playoffs Preview
Texans at Patriots
(13-4) Houston Texans at New England Patriots (12-4)
The Texans are 6-2 on the road, and the Patriots are 6-2 at home.
This is a rematch of week 14 when the Pats beat down the Texans 42-14 at Gillette Stadium. This game is in New England because of that game, plus the Pats ended the season on a 3-1 run which allowed them to catch and pass the Texans who limped to the finish line at 1-3.
This slide-show article will look at both teams passing offenses, and both running offenses. We will look at the defenses as well. To get us started let's take a look at some stats...
Patriots convert third downs at an amazing 48.7% clip which is best in the NFL. The Texans convert 37.6% of their third downs which is #17 in the league.
The Pats have a whopping 444 first downs which is (by far) the most in the NFL. The Pats are also #1 for rushing first downs at 151. The Texans have 341 first downs which ties them for seventh best, and they have 114 rushing first downs which is also seventh best.
New England is #1 in the NFL for turnover ratio at +24, while the Texans are +12 (seventh best overall, and second best in the AFC).
The Pats are flagged on average 6.1 times every game (#9 in NFL) while the Texans are flagged 6.8 times per game (even more lately...6.8 is #25 in the NFL).
Bill Belichick is 206-108 in his career, including 17-7 in the playoffs. At the helm of the Pats he is 167-63 including 16-6 in the playoffs. His counterpart is Gary Kubiak who has a career record of 61-54 (including 2-1 in the playoffs), but he is 24-11 the last two seasons. Kubiak's Texans are an impressive 11-5 on the road over the past two seasons.
Wade Phillips has orchestrated a top-7 rush defense for the second time in his two year tenure with the Texans.
Page 2 - Texans pass attack...Page 3 - Texans running game...Page 4 - Patriots air attack...Page 5 - Pats running game...Page 6 - prediction + links to other playoff game previews.
Texans Passing Game
Matt Schaub is 1-2 vs the Patriots with five touchdowns and just two interceptions. In their week 14 tilt vs the Pats Schaub was 19 for 32 (232 yards) with zero touchdowns and one interception.
In the past 15 quarters Schaub has as many touchdown passes as you or I have, which is to say - zero. In their past eight quarters the Pats have allowed just one touchdown pass.
On the road this season Schaub had nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. His road quarterback rating is just 79.5. He was sacked only 10 times on the road, and he faces a Pats defense that has 22 sacks at home (led by Rob Ninkovich who has 6.0 of his 8.0 sacks at Gillette Stadium).
In week 3 Andre Johnson caught a touchdown pass at Denver. Incredibly that is his only road touchdown this season. Johnson earned a new career-high this season with 1,598 receiving yards, but the majority of those came at home.
Owen Daniels leads the team with six touchdowns, and leads them with three road touchdowns. The Texans are 6-0 when Daniels catches a touchdown pass.
Those two are the only legit threats through the passing game, and both will need to produce vs this Patriots pass defense that is ranked #29 overall.
In their week 14 tilt when the Pats blitzed they had massive success vs Schaub. They forced a fumble, and had an interception on plays where they sent extra pass-rushers. Devin McCourty leads the team with five interceptions, and one of those were vs Schaub.
Texans Rushing Attack
The Patriots run defense is perhaps under-the-radar. Vince Wilfork is one of my favourite players in the NFL, he is awesome. This guy blows up plays on a regular basis, and he will have to be very good vs Arian Foster and the Texans run game. Foster will likely see his play-calls be for stretch plays as he does struggle up the middle and that is where Wilfork is waiting to eat.
In that week 14 tilt the Pats were in the backfield dropping Texans for a loss on a regular basis. Foster did score a touchdown in that game, but overall he had just 46 yards on 15 carries (3.1 yards per carry).
Foster averages 4.3 yards per carry on the road, and he has seven road touchdowns. In his past five road games he has five touchdowns. This Texans passing game is struggling mightily so they will be looking for Foster to carry the load on offense. He is their leader anyway, but especially these days.
The Texans are not a team that will fumble often, but this Patriots defense has a whopping 21 fumble recoveries this season.
This is a #RML issue in this game as the Texans only chance to get this win is if their running game dominates the Patriots.
Brady Bunch Passing Attack
Tom Brady is 3-1 vs the Texans with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. In their week 14 game vs them he had a whopping four touchdowns (zero interceptions). In that game Brandon Lloyd had his only home touchdown of the season.
Aaron Hernandez had a pair of touchdowns in that week 14 game, and this will be the first time that Rob Gronkowski will play against the Texans in his career. The Texans defense has to be petrified about what the Patriots tight ends could do to them on Sunday.
When the Texans blitzed the Pats we saw Tom Terrific torch them so there will be an all-around different game-plan for Wade Phillips' crew this weekend.
Houston has had success limiting Wes Welker as he has zero career touchdowns vs them in four games. His worst game of 2012 was vs the Texans as he was targeted nine times but had just three catches for 52 yards.
Whitney Mercilus had the only sack of Brady week 14, but with the return of Brooks Reed he will hardily even play in this game. That week 14 game at Gillette Stadium was the only game all season where J.J. Watt did not have a sack or batted ball. If/when Watt does create pressure we will see the Pats go to their spread offense and use their quick-hitters and slants which they are very effective with in order to negate any pass-rush.
The Patriots passing game is ranked #4 overall, and they are awesome. This will be a massive test for the Texans #16 pass defense.
Patriots Ground Game
Stevan Ridley romped for 1,263 yards this season which is seventh best in the NFL. His 2012 season was the best by a Pats running back since Corey Dillon in 2004. He had a whopping 82 rushing first downs which was third best in the League.
Ridley averages 4.0 yards per carry at home, and the Texans allow 4.0 yards per carry on the season (tied for seventh best in the NFL). In that week 14 game Ridley ran the football 18 times for 72 yards (4.0 per carry).
The Texans have allowed just five rushing touchdowns which ties them with the Denver Broncos as the NFL's best.
The Pats passing game gets most of the publicity, but in their dozen wins they average 153 rushing yards. Shane Vereen was effective vs the Texans, but this will likely be all about Ridley when the Pats go to their ground game.
In their past two road games the Texans have yielded 72 yards to Ridley, and 78 to Vick Ballard (best last name in the NFL) which are by far the most yards they allowed on the road this season. Their rush defense is very confident overall.
The Pats have a whopping 151 rushing touchdowns which is an amazing average of 9 rushing first downs per game (wow). This is a very legit running attack for Bill Belichick, and their ground game contributes a ton to this team.
AFC Divisional Game - Texans at Patriots
The best part of the Texans offense is their running game, but A) the Pats are good vs the run and B) this Patriots offense is sure to make this game a shootout thus negating the Texans running attack for for the most part.
The Patriots won their first meeting vs the Texans by 28, and they will win this game by 17+ points. If the Pats do win they will head to Denver for the AFC Championship game if the Broncos also win, or they would host the AFC Title game if the Ravens upset the Broncos.
The Texans would also head to Denver if they win and the Broncos win, or they would host the AFC Championship game if they win and the Ravens upset the Broncos.
The Texans only chance to win this game is if J.J. Watt and Arian Foster have massive games, but the Pats have several different ways they can win this game. Simply too much talent on this New England team to keep them out of the AFC Championship game.
Thank you for checking out my work! My articles as the 2013 NFL Playoffs Insider for Rant Sports are RIGHT HERE