2013 NFL Playoffs: Texans at Patriots, the X-Factors
The final game of the 2013 NFL Playoffs Divisional weekend is the Houston Texans traveling to take on the New England Patriots. As the Rant Sports NFL Playoffs Insider I have a detailed game preview RIGHT HERE, and this article is a look at some potential X-factors in this game.
Kareem Jackson had four interceptions in the first half of the season, and the Texans went 4-0 in games where he picked off the opposing quarterback, but he did not tally an interception in the second half of the season. The Patriots have Stevan Ridley, but we know their bread is buttered through their aerial attack.
A nightmare for the Texans is that Tom Brady and the Brady Bunch will repeat their performance from week 14 when Brady had four touchdowns and zero interceptions against them. Jackson is a guy that can make a difference-making play and allow the Texans offense to continue to feature their running game rather than be forced into a Brady vs Matt Schaub shootout.
For the Patriots I would say their X-factor could be return specialist Devin McCourty. McCourty offers momentum changing opportunities as their kickoff return man. The Pats will score a ton of points (they are simply that good) so imagine when the Texans do score and feel like they are hanging with the Pats only to have McCourty break a solid return and put the Pats in business right away.
I am in the (surprising) minority when I predict that New England will win this game, and I do not think the Pats will necessarily need big special teams plays to win this game, but I think they will have opportunities to make some plays with their kick returns.
My other X-factor articles, and all of my NFL Playoffs articles are RIGHT HERE