The Patriots head to Houston to play an indoor game against the 2-9 Houston Texans, who have struggled to find consistency under Coach Gary Kubiak.
For as much of a non-factor J.J. Watt has been in New England, he has had a hell of a year so far posting a team high 56 tackles and 9.5 sacks. Watt got the nickname ‘J.J. Swatt’ as he batted balls down at the line regularly, but in the two games against the Patriots last season he’s had 0 passes batted down. I don’t fear Watt too much, but with how much Solder has been struggling against power pass-rushers, it’s something to consider. Watt is the last guy really giving an effort on that team it seems.
The Patriots offensive line, now without Marcus Cannon and Sebastian Vollmer have allowed 28 sacks this season as Brady has spent more times than normal on his back side. Vollmer has looked lost and slow at times and will have the big challenge of Watt off the edge. This is a big week for Dante Scarnecchia, the offensive line coach for the Patriots to scheme up a way to get Solder a little help and based on the past lack of success for Watt, I’d say he’s just the man for the job.
The Texans are out of the playoff race, but it doesn’t mean they won’t try to play for the pride of beating the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Still with a quarterback that has played just five games and hasn’t won one yet, it’s going to be difficult as long as the Patriots don’t look past the Texans.
The opportunity for the Patriots to show consistency when it counts should be reason enough for them to get up for this game because this isn’t one you necessarily want to look past. There is a number one or two seed at stake for the Patriots and they need to keep the foot on the gas pedal and make it so the backups can play the second half.
There will be opportunities in the run game for the Patriots and Texans as both teams come in struggling defending the run. The Texans rank 22nd while the Patriots rank a horrible 31st. the Patriots tried to address the losses on defense due to injury by a trade deadline acquisition in Isaac Sopoaga, but he’s been useless posting just one tackle.
The Patriots have also promoted a practice squad player, who is very young, but is built like a bull. The 6’2 325 Sealver Siliga is active this week and the Patriots hope he can bring what they have been lacking.
Right now, the Patriots have just a one game deficit to the Broncos for the number one seed, which means home field throughout the playoffs and a first round bye. On the other side of the coin, the Patriots hold a one game lead over the Colts, which means the three seed. The three seed would mean you’re playing in the wildcard round and don’t have the home field advantage.
There’s a lot at stake and the Patriots should know that as they look to pull away from the Colts, who have the more difficult schedule ahead of them. Texans-Patriots kicks off at 1:00PM.