The New England Patriots are favored to a laughable extent over the Houston Texans this weekend. The Texans are 16-point underdogs after losing to the Patriots — and their third-string quarterback — 27-0 four months ago. So, that line seems low, if anything.
Still, the Patriots are managing to say all the right things about the Texans, who have to be among the worst teams in NFL history to make it into the second round of the playoffs.
Belichick already heaped big praise on wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Here’s what the Patriots are preaching about the seemingly overmatched Texans this week.
Bill Belichick: “They’re a really impressive team, a big win last week against Oakland. They’re playing very well here at this point in time, outstanding on defense, a lot of explosive players on offense, kicking game, well-coached. Obviously, a very good fundamental team. They don’t beat themselves, don’t get penalized, don’t turn the ball over. Just a really sound football team. This will be a big challenge for us this week to be able to compete with them.”
Devin McCourty: “I think one thing is their tight ends are making a lot more plays now than the first time we played them. The running game has really been working for them, getting Lamar Miller going and really feeding him. I think he had the ball 30 times last game; well, he ran 30 times. I think for us we just have to be ready to go and know this team knows us well. They’re going to come in here with a game plan.”
Nate Solder: “I think that it’s going to be a real challenge because they have some familiarity with the area, they have some familiarity with the way we do things, everything that we do. I think they have great coaches and I think they have a really good defense, so it’s going to be tough for us.”
Malcolm Butler: “Teams are not peaking early in the season, so you most definitely say they got better, we got better, so time will tell.”
Rob Ninkovich: “I think that they’re playing really well in all three phases. I think that their running game is very strong, so we have a challenge.”
Josh McDaniels: “This is a defense that doesn’t give you anything easy. You’re going to have to execute a lot of plays to drive the ball and get points. They make you earn everything you get — first down, second down, third down, red zone, short yardage, very few big plays allowed. They’re physical, they’re aggressive. … You’re talking about a team that’s first in total defense, which that says enough. Second in passing yards, top 10 in all the main categories — red zone, third down, points allowed, I mean, this is going to be, again, we’re going to need a great week of preparation. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
Matt Patricia: “You can really see from an offensive standpoint, they’re doing a great job right now of running the ball, controlling the game. They didn’t turn the ball over, they really don’t give up that many pressures and they’re just doing a good job of getting the ball around to their skill players.”
Chris Hogan: “They’re playing good football. They’re turning the ball over on defense. They have some guys who really play well. Offensively, they’re making some big plays. They’re definitely a different football team than we played in Week 3. It’ll be a good matchup.”
So, did they convince you? It’s certainly easier to make the case that the Texans’ defense presents a challenge, but even then they ranked 11th in points allowed this season with 20.5 per game.
The Texans’ offense was abhorrent regardless of who was at quarterback this season. They averaged just 73.3 rushing yards per game over their final three regular-season matchups and 198.5 passing yards per game on the season.
Quite frankly, regardless of what the Patriots are saying, this should be a blowout just as the oddsmakers are predicting.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images