2013 NFL Divisional Round Playoff Preview: Patriots Defense vs. Texans Offense
As if the Houston Texans needed additional motivation to avenge for their embarrassing performance on Monday Night Football in Week 14, Dan Shaughnessy laid it up on a silver platter. Characterizing this divisional round rematch as another bye week is bold, but that is the world we live in — the digital age. Everybody has an opinion; some just have more awareness and access than others.
Off-field commentary aside, the Patriots defensive unit dominated Matt Schaub a month ago. In preparation for the divisional round playoff rematch, BST&N is taking a deeper look at Houston’s offensive performance and New England’s defensive counter.
Despite falling behind 21-0 early, the Texan QB was limited to:
19/32 – 232 Yards – 0 TD – 1 INT – 68.8 Passer Rating
Furthermore, Wilfork lead our stingy defense to record:
2 SACK – 8 TFL – 7 PD – 7 QB HITS
After rewatching the game last night via NFL Network, I’d like to highlight several of my observations on the defensive side of the ball:
– Alfonzo Dennard & Dont’a Hightower had multiple open field tackles on third down. These two rookies played an integral role in limiting Texan success.
– Jerod Mayo was lined up all over the field, disguising his blitzes and creating constant pressure off the edge on Schaub to make rushed hot reads.
– DL Brandon Deaderick logged 5 total tackles, the most of his 2012 campaign.
– DE Justin Francis was disruptive, causing 2 QB hits – one forced a game-changing Devin McCourty interception
New England also did a remarkable job of limiting stud Arian Foster to:
15 CAR – 46 YDS – 3.1 AVG – 1 TD
On the contrary, he was effective in the passing game – grabbing 4 balls for 39 yards. If limiting Andre Johnson to less than 100 yards is a win, the Patriots earned another victory in Week 14 (8 REC – 95 YDS). The downside of this statistic is that he was targeted 10 times and had one drop. The Patriots were playing prevent defense with an early lead but they need to do a better job of denying Andre the ball.
The course of the rematch could go a variety of ways, but I expect a much tighter game. On the first drive of Week 14, Ridley fumbled on the goal line and the Texans muffed the recovery. Combine that with a few costly third down penalties on Houston and New England was the benefactor of some huge needle swinging plays early on. Not to mention, Woodhead’s lucky fumble into Brandon Lloyd’s arms was just good fortune.
While the Patriots have defended the run admirably all year, Arian Foster has made history by rushing for the most postseason yards (425) in his first three playoff games. He gained 140 yards against the Bengals last week, but once again – only totaled 46 yards on the ground in Week 14. Limiting Foster and making the shaky Schaub ( 0 TD, 3 INT in his past three games) beat the Patriots will be the key to victory on the defensive side of the ball. If New England causes a few turnovers and wraps up like Week 14, Tom Brady and a healthy Gronkowski will take it home in a much closer game than people expect.
Be on the lookout for a Patriots Offense vs. Texans Defense preview tomorrow.