The Patriots and the Texans are both 2-0 to start the season and have been breaking in new QBs. The Patriots started the first two games with Jimmy Garoppolo, who got injured midway through the second game. The Texans gave Brock Osweiler a $72M deal with 50% of it guaranteed over 4 years. Garoppolo looked impressive in his games while Osweiler hasn't been as impressive. The Patriots might not have Jimmy G available for this game, which is only 4 days after an injury to his throwing shoulder.
Killer Bs: LeGarrette Blount and Martellus Bennett must help carry the load offensively. We know that Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Chris Hogan will find ways to contribute like they normally do, but the game will come down to running the ball and red zone offense. Blount and Bennett were two very big reasons why the Patriots prevailed last Sunday, both chipping in on the Patriots final drive that killed 4 minutes of clock and exhausted all of the Dolphins' timeouts. If the Patriots can get another 100+ yard game from each, then the offense should be in terrific shape even with rookie Jacoby Brissett making his first NFL start.
Slow down Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney on the edge: The Texans have two solid bookend rushers in Mercilus and Clowney, with Mercilus being the tougher block. While defensive end/tackle JJ Watt eats up a lot of headlines, the Texans have a more advantageous matchup with those two since Watt is playing through an injury. The Patriots need to find ways to neutralize the pass rush with cut blocks, screens, misdirection runs, and double teams. The game is going to be faster mentally for Brissett than it would for Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo. Any edge the Patriots can get for their rookie QB will be huge in this quick turnaround match-up.
Take away WR DeAndre Hopkins: Hopkins has been carrying the Texans offense with touchdowns in the first two games. Last year the Patriots were able to erase him with a double team of Logan Ryan trailing and Devin McCourty over the top. The Texans addressed the WR position by drafting Will Fuller in the first round and recent QB convert Braxton Miller in the 3rd round. With a new QB just in his 3rd game in the Texans offense, the Patriots are going to make Brock Osweiler string together long drives to move the ball instead of relying on Hopkins on deep passes. The goal is to frustrate the Texans QB and offensive coordinator into making a mistake that the Patriots can capitalize on.
Avoid sloppy mistakes: Both teams will have 3 days to prepare for this game, so I don't expect a lot from a scheme standpoint. Without a full week to prepare, I also expect to see the teams play sloppily on both sides of the ball. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win the ball game. If the offense can avoid turnovers and Special Teams continuously gives the Texans long fields, then I think they will have a shot to win.
For the game, I'm predicting a closely-contested game that will come down to the final drive. Texans win 27-24 on a last second field goal after Brissett leads a scoring drive to tie the game late in the 4th quarter. For what it's worth, I also thought the Cardinals were going to win 24-23 on a last-second field goal before the game kicked off.