The Houston Texans are riding high after their victory against the Cincinnati Bengals in week two. In week three they face the unenviable task of taking on the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Defeat appears inevitable, but if they want to have a chance these are the five keys to focus on.
1. Involve Wide Receivers Not Named DeAndre Hopkins
It has been seen time and time again, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick always takes away the best weapon of his opponent, for the Texans it is DeAndre Hopkins. Other wide receivers and tight ends must get involved and be productive in the passing game if the Texans truly want to be competitive come Sunday.
2. Pressure Tom Brady
This is easier said than done. The Texans pass rush has been sub-par this year with only three sacks and Brady is not easy to pressure. In the past teams have pressured Brady and he has faltered, the Texans have to hope they can replicate this formula.
3. Protect Deshaun Watson
The offensive line play is atrocious in Houston and it does not appear that it will be getting better any time soon. The offensive line has graded out at poor or average according to Pro Football Focus. This a major issue and it is likely the Patriots will do their best to smother Deshaun Watson and rattle him from the first play of the game.
4. Run the Ball
If this is sounding familiar it is because it is. The best friend of a rookie quarterback is a good running game. The Patriots have allowed 133 yards per game through their first two games. While this is not a large enough sample size to determine a trend, it is useful information to determine where their weakness on defense is.
5. Contain Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski appears to be back to his old self again and this could prove problematic for the Texans defense. Gronkowski is far and away the Patriots best pass catcher and can change the course of the game with just a few plays. Perhaps covering him with a linebacker and a safety on nearly every play could get this done, however this will leave other targets open. It’s a pick your poison type situation, the Texans should force Brady to find yards through the air elsewhere.
This week is not the week to expect a Texans upset, they are on the road with a rookie quarterback playing against the best team and coach in the NFL. This is a week best suited towards developing for long term production and not going all-in this week.