This Monday night the Texans travel to Foxborough for their third road game in a row, as millions of fans will pay witness to one of the best Monday night showdowns of the year. The Texans are the top team in the AFC at 11-1 while the Patriots trail by only two games at 9-3. What makes this game so great is that two the the NFL’s greatest players will be on the field at the same time as Defensive End J.J. Watt will line up against Quarterback Tom Brady in what should be the battle for the best players in the AFC. The more you look at the matchup the more you realize how contrasting the teams are yet both are successful.
J.J. Watt is the star of the Texans eye as he is ranked 6th in passes defended with 15. While he is ranked 6th the top 40 players on the list are all defensive backs which should be a testament of this players versatility as a 3-4 defensive end. He is also second on the sack list with 16.5, only trailing linebacker Aldon Smith by one sack, which has helped his team become a perennial playoff contender. While Watt has the ability to rush and play in coverage, Brady is not amateur in finding throwing lanes and accurately throwing the ball into tight windows. Watt will have to remain poised and try not to play overly aggressive as Brady will thrive over him playing out of place.
Tom Brady on the other hand is Tom Brady, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. While he too has lead his team as a perennial playoff contender, Brady was one of the hidden gems of the 2000 draft. Since taking over for Drew Bledsoe in 2001, Brady has been a top 5 Quarterback, leading his team to three Superbowls rings as one of the most proficient passers in the league. Brady is dangerous for his ability to spread to ball around through reading his progressions and making good decisions. He is able to stand in the pocket and take a hit, which is a trait he will have to rely on as Watt will relentlessly be in his face. Brady will also have to be able to stay calm as Watt’s ability to deflect passes will frustrate Brady if he is unable to get the protection he needs.
This Monday night they square off on the turf as the Texans have yet to clinch the division with the resurgent Colts on their heels. The Patriots on the other hand have already clinched their division, but would take interest in clinching a first round bye week and allow Bill Belichick to mastermind a game plan for the playoffs.
While other teams have yet to clinch a playoff berth, this will most definitely be the game to watch this week for not only being on the prime time stage, but also for being a clash between the NFL’s finest.
– Antonio Furgiuele