The road to the Super Bowl starts today for the New England Patriots, as they host the Houston Texans. The Texans beat the Bengals last week 19-13 in what was a battle of field goals. The Pats did not play last week, as they got the bye. If the Patriots win today, they will host the Baltimore Ravens next week for the AFC Championship. But wait, not so fast. They have to win today.
This is a whole new game and don’t let the Pats’ domination of the Texans about a month ago lull you into the belief that victory is assured. Games are entities unto themselves and each is an independent event. Let’s consider who’s favored in this AFC Divisional game and why?
Pats Look Good
The line has the Pats favored by anywhere from 9 to 10.5 points. Wow, that’s a lot! I think New England will win but I don’t know if it will be by 10? There are a few things to consider when looking at this game—Patriot defense, Houston offense and Tom Brady & Company.
Defense Vs Offense
Here’s the skinny on the Patriots’ defense. They are now very good. In five of their last six games they have allowed opponents 19 points or less. The exception was the home game versus San Francisco. The Pats did not show up for much of that game and still they mounted a comeback that almost worked. They allowed the 49ers 41 points in that game. Look for the defense to be tough and to limit Houston’s point production.
One thing in New England’s favor is the fact that the Houston offense has become very sluggish. In four of their last six games, they have scored 19 points or less. What had been an explosive juggernaut has turned into an unpredictable and often deflated force.
Brady and Pats’ Offense
Does it all come down to Tom Brady? My answer to that question is “yes and no.” Brady is the lynchpin for what is the most productive offense in the NFL. He’s got a lot of go-to receivers, including two of the best tight ends in the game. Plus, the New England running game is a potent force. More importantly, that offensive line has been extremely dependable.
Tough Houston D
Here’s the one major warning note concerning this game—the Texan defense is very good and they are capable of causing turnovers, stopping opponents in the red zone and scoring points on their own. What scares me a bit about this is that Brady has, at times, been prone to mistakes. Hopefully, he’ll be on his game and his guard.
Yes, I do believe the Pats will win today. But I don’t think it will be easy. This is playoff football and the Texans have worked hard to get to this point. Plus, they are highly motivated to prove that the New England humiliation of a few weeks ago was nothing more than an anomaly. Final score: Patriots 24 and Houston 20. Go Pats