Houston Texans Games by Difficulty: No. 4
With the news coming in of Tom Brady‘s suspension, it is confirmed that the Houston Texans will not see him in week three. Still, playing at New England is hard, landing it at number four on the countdown:
The biggest egg on the face of the NFL in recent years, the Deflategate saga, is over. Well, kind of. Brady will not be taking any more legal action, but the NFLPA will appeal to the Supreme Court–good luck getting them to hear your case guys.
Still, in the last three years the Patriots have lost twice at home. When Brady was lost for the season in 2008, the Patriots went 11-5 with Matt Cassel, journeyman quarterback and guy who at that point in time hadn’t started since high school. New England will be fine.
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Jimmy Garoppolo will start in that game (barring something extreme), and the former second round pick in 2014 should be well prepared in his third season behind Brady. Ultimately, the Patriots have the top security blanked in the league in Rob Gronkowski to throw to, so the burden will fall away from him to win the game.
The Patriots have struggled in recent seasons against the pass, and did so again last year. The Texans are going to have to exploit their secondary with the skill of DeAndre Hopkins, speed of Will Fuller and versatility of Braxton Miller. Brock Osweiler engineered a comeback win to hand the Patriots their first loss of the season last year, so he will have some familiarity with the opponent.
With the Patriots offensive line be such a weak point last year, it might stand to reason that the Texans could take advantage with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus coming after Garappolo. Brady would have avoided the pressure with his lightning quick release, but the Texans might be able to get a lot more pressure on Garappolo.
The funny thing is that Bill O’Brien has familiarity with Brady, but he never coached Garappolo. O’Brien left to come to the Texans before Garappolo joined the Patriots. This should be a good game, and test for the Texans. They will need to get a pass rush and exploit the weaknesses in the Patriots secondary in order to get out with a win. Those will be easier said than done.