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Patriots vs. Texans preview: 3 keys to the game, fun facts, prediction

Ryan Hannable
September 08, 2018 - 11:58 am

Finally, football is back.

The Patriots will open the 2018 season Sunday afternoon by hosting the Texans in one of the marquee matchups across the entire NFL. Houston didn’t have a great year last year, finishing 4-12, but injuries played a major factor in that. It lost its two best players — Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt -- among others to season-ending injuries. Both will be on the field Sunday and will create matchup problems for the Patriots.

Over the years the Patriots have dominated the Texans, winning nine out of the 10 meetings, including the playoffs. Houston’s only win came in 2010. The two teams met last September when the Patriots scored in the final minute to come away with a 36-33 win.

Texans vs. Patriots
Sunday, September 9, 2018
1:00 p.m., CBS
Patriots -6, over/under 50.5

3 keys to the game

Keep Deshaun Watson in check

Watson is one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the league and he showed it against the Patriots in the Week 3 meeting last year. The Clemson product was 22-for-33 passing with 301 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while adding 41 yards rushing on eight carries. The Patriots defense will need to do a better job this week. It has been working all week on containment in the pocket, as it doesn’t want Watson to get free and make plays with his feet. If the Patriots can keep Watson in check, they have a good chance of winning.

Get the ball out quick

When it comes to the Houston defense, it has one of the best front-seven’s in all of football, but on the flip side, its secondary isn’t quite as strong. Josh McDaniels and the Patriots offense will need to find ways to get the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands quick to offset the powerful pass rush. This will be easier said than done, especially with who Brady has at the receiver position. Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson will be his main options, but also look for James White, Rex Burkhead, Rob Gronkowski and Jacob Hollister to play major roles as well. Expect lots of screen plays, not only to running backs, but receivers as well.

Establish a running game

Another way to counter-attack the Houston front-seven is to establish a running game. This will also be key in preventing lots of third-and-long situations, as without Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, Brady doesn’t have two of his favorite targets to go to. Jeremy Hill could be in for a big day, as even though Burkhead is the top back, he missed all of the preseason so Hill may get the majority of the carries on Sunday. A solid rushing attack would go a long way in helping offset the lack of depth at receiver, as well.

Fun facts

1. With a win, Bill Belichick will pass Tom Landry and move into third place when it comes to wins in the regular season. Both currently have 250.

2. With the Patriots, when Hogan records more than 50 yards receiving, they are 13-2 (includes postseason).

3. Since 2016 in the regular season, the Patriots are 18-1 when Brady throws multiple touchdown passes.

4. Brady has gone six straight regular season games without throwing for more than 300 yards. It’s his longest streak since 2010 when he went eight straight games.

5. Since Bill O’Brien became coach of the Texans, they have turned the ball over at least once in 58 of 67 games (includes playoffs).


Patriots 27, Texans 24

We like the Patriots, but in a close one. Historically, the Patriots don’t perform that well in Week 1’s and Houston is a very, very good team. Don’t be surprised if Brady is frustrated much of the afternoon and doesn’t have his best statistical game. In the end, we expect the Patriots to find a way to win and start the season 1-0.

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