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Potential Division Round Opponent: Houston Texans

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Previewing a potential rematch between the Patriots and Texans.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots soundly defeated the Texans in Week 14 by a 27-6 margin where the Patriots defense dominated the game. In order for the Texans to travel to Foxboro, they would need the Steelers to upset the Bengals and the Texans must beat the Chiefs. Given that the two match-ups are rematch especially from the regular season. The Texans are another team that's been severely hit with injuries with the loss of Arian Foster and Duane Brown on offense. If you're a Patriots fan, this is the matchup you want since the Patriots match up well in all three phases of the game.

For the Patriots, they will not have Dominique Easley or LeGarrette Blount, but they do get Julian Edelman back. The Texans defense is good at getting off the field on 3rd downs with a pass rush led by JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus. I expect the Patriots to double Watt as much as possible. With the Patriots receiving corps almost at full strength, the Texans coverage is probably overmatched. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots can run the ball inside as well as the first game, as that could be a huge difference. The Texans will likely have Brian Hoyer at QB should they advance that far.

Key Injuries to Monitor

  • Texans QB Brian Hoyer
  • Texans DL JJ Watt
  • Patriots WR Julian Edelman
  • Patriots ED Chandler Jones
  • Patriots OT Sebastian Vollmer
Key Coverage Matchups:
  • Logan Ryan and Devin McCourty vs. DeAndre Hopkins
  • Kareem Jackson vs. Julian Edelman
The Patriots would be heavy favorites in this game due to the Week 14 game and the game is being at Foxboro. This could be a game where I could see the Patriots starting slow because the Texans are the most inferior playoff team in the AFC. The biggest area of concern is if the Patriots OL has to pass protect for 3+ seconds, where the twist and stunt game becomes a factor for the opposing pass rush. That could make the game closer than the Patriots would like.