Alright, now I have to actually look at every game as a tough matchup for the New England Patriots. However, I can stay shove sunshine and daisies up your asses if you’d like. We’ll get that out of the way quickly then get to the real breakdown…the Patriots only lost against the Denver Broncos because of the refs. Even with the injuries, they had them beat. The Eagles were the trap game that they seem to lose every year. Some are worse than others. Think Cleveland Browns in 2010 when Peyton Hillis tore up the Patriots defense. That is the kind of bad we are talking about. Anyway, despite all the injuries and three defensive and special teams touchdowns by the Eagles, the Patriots still almost came back to force overtime. Teams usually have trouble overcoming one non-offensive touchdown, never mind three. There we go, ok now onto the game.
Sunday night will be one part football game, one part reunion. The Texans are essentially Patriots south. Head coach Bill O’Brien is the former offensive coordinator in New England. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel led the Patriots defense to three Super Bowl championships. Brian Hoyer is quarterbacking the team. He once held the clipboard on the Patriots’ sideline. Linebacker Mike Vrabel is now the linebackers coach for O’Brien’s team. George Godsey, a less known name for Patriots fans, is the offensive coordinator in Houston. He served as an offensive assistant and tight ends coach in New England. And last but certainly not least, Vince Wilfork is lining up next to JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Oh and by the way, Patriots’ wide receiver Keshawn Martin used to play for the Texans, so there’s that too.
The Houston Texans was looking like a tougher matchup for the Pats even before all of the injuries and the disgrace that was the Eagles game. Since halftime against the Miami Dolphins in week eight, the Texans defense has played to the level many expected them to play at before the season started; that being an elite level. Now that game was far too out of hand to come back from, but since that game, the Texans are 4-1, with their only loss coming last week at the hands of Sexy Rexy in Buffalo.
The matchup that everybody is looking forward to, or at least should be looking forward to, is Malcolm Butler manning up DeAndre Hopkins. Most people believed that Odell Beckham Jr. would draw Logan Ryan and safety help over the top with Butler locking down the number two. Well, despite what the numbers say, Butler locked down Beckham. Could we see him do the same with Hopkins today?
The only other matchup to watch on for the Patriots defensive side of the ball is how the running backs are covered. With Dont’a Hightower out again, they will have to hope that Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo can handle that. However, Mayo has been, to put it simply, bad.
The Patriots offense is where this game is interesting. We never thought the day would come, but right now, the Patriots’ defense is better than their offense. Injuries have totally crippled them. However, Rob Gronkowski is back, so Brady will at least have him and Amendola so he can get rid of the ball quickly, instead of airing it out to Brandon LaFell or, God forbid, Scott Chandler.
The final note for this game is that Josh Kline is out. Those who are casual fans may not like Kline. However, he has been their most consistent offensive lineman this year. Losing Kline is big. They could do a few things. They could just fill in Tre Jackson at right guard. They could put David Andrews in the spot. They could put Andrews at center and move Stork to guard. Whatever they do, just hope they can keep Brady upright. JJ Watt did break his hand in practice; however, he is good enough to get around lineman with the club. He still needs to be doubled every play.
This game was looking like it could be a tough game even before the Patriots were hit with the injury bug. Gronk back helps, for sure. But this is not an easy matchup and could be a very defensive game.