The stage is set for a rematch in Foxboro as the New England Patriots host the Houston Texans in the second round of the NFL Playoffs. The Patriots annihilated the Texans this year, beating them 42-14. It was a game that was supposed to be a lot closer as the Texans came into town with an AFC-best record of 11-1. They left New England 11-2.
Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and just about everyone else, including the Texans, know that the upcoming game, which is to be played Sunday, January 13 at 4:30 pm at Gillette Stadium, is in no way connected to the 42-14 blowout. This is a whole new football game.
When asked about the two games being related, Belichick said, “No, as we all know, when you play a team twice during the season, the games are totally different.” The coach noted, “They never go the same way.”
Playoff Prep Process
Belichick explained, “We’ll be able to certainly look at some of the matchups, individually of guys that faced each other in the game, but as far as plays and calls and things like that matching up, I’m sure they’ll have some new wrinkles and I’m sure we’ll have some too. It will be totally different.”
Brady, on “Dennis and Callahan Show” this morning echoed coach Bill’s thoughts saying, “I don’t think that game is going to have any bearing on what happens next week.”
Houston Survives First Week
Houston beat Cincinnati 19-13 in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. It was a game of field goals, as each team scored just one touchdown. In the last four weeks of the regular season, the Texan lost three of four and saw their point production drop as they scored an average of just 13.25 PPG. In that same time opponents scored 30.5 PPG against Houston. If the Pats can exploit the Houston defense as they did in their regular season meeting and pressure QB Matt Schaub and shutdown the running game, they will have a cakewalk. But those are a lot of “ifs.”
For the Patriots the upcoming game versus the Texans is their first step to securing another Super Bowl berth. I’m not bothering to look beyond this first game. They need to win it and chances are it won’t be easy. The playoffs rarely are.