Texans vs. Patriots: Who has the advantage at every position?
Which team has the better linebackers?
As we noticed last week, the Houston Texans linebackers are one of the stronger position groups on the team. Whitney Mercilus is turning in a career year in the absence of J.J. Watt, grinding his way to 5.5 sacks and the second most forced fumbles in the league (four).
Zach Cunningham has an astounding 95 tackles in somewhat of a breakout season, and Benardrick McKinney comes second on the team with an additional 79 tackles. The group did experience a small hiccup with the season-ending injury to Dylan Cole, but the top-heavy group will be able to hold down the fort.
The New England Patriots feature impressive depth at nearly every position, including a whopping 20 total regular rotational players on defense. The real star here is Jamie Collins, who has been magnificent in his first season back after a stretch with the Cleveland Browns, overpowering his way to six sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, and one touchdown. He’s a serious contender for DPOY, but is arguably not even the best player on his own team defense (more on that soon).
Dont’a Hightower is all the way back after a season-ending injury in 2017 and has returned to commandeer the middle of the field. Kyle Van Noy is as underrated as any player in the league, menacing through offensive lines for 5.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.
Though the Texans field an impressive group, this one belongs to New England because of Collins’ game-wrecking ability.