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AFC Divisional Preview: Houston Texans at New England Patriots

AFC Divisional Preview: Houston Texans at New England Patriots

And the way they're playing - with an offense that has multiple ways to get the ball into the end zone and a defense that is creating turnovers and havoc with relentless pressure - suggests that a New England advance to the February 5 Super Bowl in Houston is far from certain. He's the tallest quarterback in the NFL.

Tom Brady is as good as they come and with the Texans a complete underdog, he is not anxious about the Patriots and how they will handle expectations on Saturday night. "He's a tall guy, so it's harder to bat balls down and that sort of thing".

"Well, you see the guy, he's very naturally gifted".

So in order to reassure myself about the Patriots playoff trajectory, I turned to my favorite expert on football, someone I've watched many a game with, my dog, Buddy the Wonder Lab.

The Patriots have outscored their last three opponents, 92-20, over the last three games, with Brady and Co. always in high gear.

The Patriots last loss at home in the playoffs came against the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 in the AFC championship game. Nobody is expecting them to go in there and win. Brock Osweiler, a $72 million bust ($37 million guaranteed) benched on December 18, resurfaced two weeks later and is again the Texans' starting quarterback. Osweiler went 14-of-25 for 168 yards and a touchdown, and he's still really bad, but you already knew that.

Osweiler looked like a flash of why Houston paid him that insane amount last week. The 26-year-old tallied 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. That's due in large part to allowing just 68 rushing yards per game over the last 10 games.

But that doesn't mean he's been easy to sack.

Brock Osweiler has traveled on a rocky road this season, which is unfortunate since the Texans paid a lot of money for his services in the offseason. With his height, Osweiler wouldn't intuitively be a particularly mobile quarterback. "He returned one for a touchdown when we ran into the kicker, but I thought that was an excellent return by him".

"He's big, but he's also mobile", Trey Flowers said.

Osweiler's height affords him an advantage when it comes to reading the defense downfield. "He's so big he can pretty much see everything". [Smith] is not going to turn the ball over, and he's going to make smart throws.

"He's been very productive; long, very athletic, good pass rusher, good run player, good tackler, strip sacks, so he's got really good awareness", Belichick said. Clowney is elusive and quick in getting after opposing quarterbacks. This team, at home, it's going to be tough for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they're vibing too.

"I think it's just a different attitude here". He can get up in the middle of the pocket and move around well. The Texans feature a defense that can pose a challenge to the Patriots and a coaching staff that knows Bill Belichick well, from Bill O'Brien to Romeo Crennel. But he and Osweiler have shown an increased rapport in recent weeks. The top overall pick in the 2014 draft had his first career interception in the win over the Raiders to set up Houston's first touchdown in the 27-14 win. "Obviously, he's got a lot of weapons on the offensive side. To be in that position, get double-teamed quite a bit, and to have the productive career that he's had, it's a testament to him, it's a testament to his toughness". He's able to extend the pocket and look downfield and makes some throws. "You got a glimpse of it today".

The numbers speak for themselves, but are not ones that New England defensive captain Dont'a Hightower believes are the result of any dramatic changes to their approach.


editors' picks

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