Texans vs. Patriots: Staff predictions

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Dec 6, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) celebrates his sack on Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) with Houston Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork (75) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beats Houston 30 to 21. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Josh McSwain, Editor

Game: New England Patriots at Houston Texans

Prediction: Last week I wondered if Buffalo was a trap game. Now the Texans are going to be on national TV in prime time against one of the best teams in the AFC. But there are several things going for the Texans in this game.

First, the Patriots offensive line is not very good and dealing with a rash of injuries, as they have all year. I imagine the pressure will be back on for J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and hopefully Jadeveon Clowney. Those three have to harass and hit Brady all night and get him to the ground. Fortunately Brady is not mobile in the least, unlike Tyrod Taylor last week. It should not be overlooked that Bill O’Brien coached Brady for years, and nobody would know him better. Of course the way to counter a good rush is to get the ball out quickly and run the ball. Fortunately for the Texans Kareem Jackson should be back on his game so it will be harder for Danny Amendola to get mismatches. I imagine he will get a lot of looks in this game. Defending Scott Chandler will be crucial in this game, because there still figures to be no Rob Gronkowski in this one.

Secondly, the Patriots secondary has been beaten by big plays all year. Who is better at making big plays than DeAndre Hopkins? I think he gets one big play in this one, but the Patriots take away what you do best so I think they will keep Hopkins reasonably contained, but the other guys are going to make up for it. Nate Washington will get behind the defense a couple times in this game and just when the Patriots start playing off Brian Hoyer will be able to hit Ryan Griffin underneath to move the chains.

Even though the Patriots stop the run as well as anybody, it won’t matter in this game because the Texans don’t run the ball. On the flip side, even though the Texans are somewhat vulnerable to the run, is James White really going to carry the load for New England? I doubt it. Moreover on running backs, Alfred Blue vs. Patriots linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower will be a matchup to watch. If the Texans can get completions out of the backfield it will help loosen up the Patriots defense.

The ingredients are there for Houston to pull an upset. However, I just can’t see the Patriots losing three in a row. But the Texans won’t make it easy.

Final Score:  New England 24, Houston 20

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