When you think of the New England Patriots, you think of a high powered passing offense led by Tom Brady. The Houston Texans remind you of great defense and powerful running game.
But despite the different perceptions, there’s not that much of a difference between the two teams when it comes to what their defenses give up. Both teams have given up the same amount of points this season, tied at ninth in opponents point per game, both giving up 20.7. In the final 7 games of the season, the Texans have given up 21 points or more five times. The Patriots have slowed down team to 19 points or less in five of their last six games.
It’s not just a matter of different momentum between the teams. This will be the second time the Texans visit Gillette Stadium this season. The previous time was probably somewhat of a low point for them, getting crushed 42-14 and beginning the losing ending to the season, winning only once in the final four games. Tom Brady threw for 296 and four touchdown passes, limiting the Texans to only 3.7 yards per rush.
Both teams have a weakness in their secondary, but it’s more evident when it comes to the Patriots, who rank 29th in the NFL against the pass, allowing quarterbacks 271.4 yards per game against them. That hasn’t stopped them from winning the AFC East with ease going 12-4 this season. The key for the Patriots is establishing early leads, which usually leads to more passing plays against them. They’ve had trouble this year closing out games in the fourth quarter, and also in the previous seasons.
When it comes to stopping the run, the Patriots are among the best in the NFL, allowing 101.9 yards per game, 9th in the league. The Texans? They have an excellent pass rush but a secondary that can be exploited by quarterbacks as good as Tom Brady. Maybe even inferior to the Golden Boy. The Texans are 16th in the NFL when it comes to pass defense, giving up 225.8 yards per game, and 7th when it comes to stuffing the run, allowing 97.5 yards per game.
Similar? The point numbers are identical, and the identity of their defenses are similar – great at stopping the run, problematic when their secondary is put under a lot of pressure. Still, in New England, if what happened once this season is a lesson to learn from, we’re going to see a very uneven match next weekend.