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Patriots X-Factors vs. Houston Texans

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Patriots players that can significantly boost the Patriots chances of winning with a strong game.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

RB Dion Lewis: If you watched Do Your Job 2, WR Coach Chad O’Shea talked about a Dion Lewis vs. Bernardrick McKinney matchup in space and how that is advantageous for them. The Patriots offense and Texans defense still has the same players in relatively the same roles. With Rex Burkhead’s availability in question on Sunday, Dion Lewis projects to have a larger role in the offense than the first two weeks. The last time Lewis faces the Texans he had a rushing, receiving, and kick return TD. With the Texans strong Front 7, it makes more sense to see Lewis and James White on the field over Mike Gillislee.

CB Jonathan Jones: Receiver Will Fuller is healthy after breaking his collarbone in the preseason, adding an element of speed to the defense. Last season, the Patriots matched up Malcolm Butler on Fuller and the matchup went the Patriots way although Fuller had more opportunities back in January. Fuller is the fastest receiver on the Texans roster, so the Patriots can opt to match 4.3 speed with 4.3 speed and put Jonathan Jones on him while having Malcolm Butler cover the Texans’ #3 receiver. Jones had a solid game against the Saints and Ted Ginn, who presented a similar matchup problem for the Patriots defense.

WR Chris Hogan: The Texans are down one of their top two CBs, which means their #4 CB will be on the field when the Texans go nickel. With Kareem Jackson likely leaving the slot to cover on the boundary, the Patriots will be facing Marcus Burley, a journeyman CB, in the slot. That could mean opportunities for both Hogan and Phillip Dorsett to attack the potential weakness in the Texans coverage. If Hogan proves to be a matchup advantage in the slot, then the Patriots should be able to move the ball and score against a tough Texans defense.

P Ryan Allen: Field position is important, and I expect 50% of drives on offense to end in punts. Allen has been mediocre in the first two games punting and the coverage unit has missed their leader in Matthew Slater. It’s important for the Patriots to gain an advantage in field position, more so than they are right now, and force Watson to have to drive 80+ yards on every possession. Given Watson’s inexperience, I doubt he will be able to go 80 yards on a 14 play drive without a running game to lean on and he will make a mistake that the defense can capitalize on.