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The patriots should be able to hold it against the Texans

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The patriots should be able to hold on against a Texan team that has had two wins, both over the Jaguars. Deshaun Watson remains one of the most exciting players in the leagues, and JJ Watt still does a lot of commercials, but former coach Bill OBriens’ ineptitude cost the Texans in the present (donates DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals) and will in the future ( they don’t have a first or second round harvest next year).

These teams have known each other this is the sixth year in a row that they will play, but it is not a rivalry. The Patriots are 10-2 all time against the Texans, including 2-0 in the playoffs.

Start it, Bailey, and let this begin

Three players Ill watch

Rex Burkhead: I suppose it is subject to change based on opponent, game plan and health status, but at the moment it seems like the patriots have a hierarchy in walking back. Hard-hitting Damien Harris crossed the 20-carry threshold in a game against the Ravens for the first time in his career, looking like a legitimate feature-back, sauntering 121 yards on 22 carries. James White has been underused this season, having only 13 touches in the last four games, including two against the Ravens, but still manages to come up with crucial moves such as a third-and-2 conversion on the drive of the second quarter that ended. with the touchdown pass from Jakobi Meyers. Which brings us to Burkhead, who does a little bit of everything. Unsung but effective and efficient, Burkhead only played 20 offensive snaps against the Ravens, but he made them count, running six times for 31 yards and four passes for 35 yards and a few TDs. If the Texans dwell on the other members of the running back mix, Burkhead will be there to make them pay.

Kyle Dugger reminds Chad Finn of a young lawyer Milloy.
Kyle Dugger reminds Chad Finn of a young lawyer Milloy.Reed Hoffmann / Associated Press

Kyle Dugger: I will say it. I demand that you stick to it, but I guess you’ll agree: The Patriots got a star when they took Dugger out of Division 2 Lenoir-Rhyne with 37th pick in the most recent NFL Draft. No, he hasn’t reached that lofty status yet, and it might not last a season or two. But the clues are everywhere. Even in games where he’s been a limited contestant, do something that pops off your television screen, making you say who was Which rocket ship? until the replay confirms it was number 35. He reminds me of the young lawyer Milloy, but bigger and bigger. And then there are the times when he makes a legitimate star turn, like last Sunday in the confirmatory win over the Ravens, when he contributed a team-high 12 tackles, holding Ravens tight against Mark Andrews when he was assigned. to him, and such a tone setting impressed an early play with the attack point against 270-pound Raven’s tight ending Nick Boyle and making the tackle on Mark Ingram that Bill Belichick highlighted during his weekly movie outage with Scott Zolak on Patriots.com. Dugger is going to change the story that Belichick shouldn’t have to line up defensive backs in the second round.

Brandin Cooks: As we learned during his only season with the Patriots (2017, when he had 65 catches for 1,082 yards and 7 touchdowns), Cooks is a very good receiver who isn’t as good as you’d hoped. It would come as a surprise if he caused a lot of trouble for the patriots on Sunday, given their familiarity with him and some of his route shortcomings, but it’s worth noting that the Texans have used him more often. He has six or more catches in four of the last five games, averaging more than nine goals per game over the same period.

Complaints of the week

I remember conspiracy theories then I’m telling you, David Stern picked up the edited, icy-cold envelope to make sure Patrick Ewing went to the Knicks! used to be funny. All too often, especially in the real world, they are disturbing if not downright harmful. And then there are those who are both insignificant and ridiculous.

Its within that latter category that Id posted this week’s silly notion that the Patriots intentionally left JC Jackson from the Pro Bowl vote because he is quickly standing up for a new contract. The Jakobi thin rationale for this theory is that I’m not sure. I have not been able to understand. That he might have an incentive that they will have to pay off? That it just seems like something Belichick would do to resist someone who’s been a really good player?

If Jackson plays the way he has for the rest of the season, he’ll go to the Pro Bowl. He leads the competition with six interceptions. But there’s a really good reason he wasn’t on the ballot, and that one of those should have immediately identified Patriots fans and media outlets: He doesn’t always start.

Jason McCourty (nine starts) and reigning defensive player of the year Stephon Gilmore (six starts, before missing the last three games with injury) top the depth chart of their conventional defense. Jackson has started four games, three since Gilmore was injured. (He also started against the Chiefs.)

Now we know that the Patriots, like most teams, play five defensive backs the majority of the time, and sometimes more than that. Jackson has played at least 86 percent of defensive snaps five times. He’s a regular, and a good one.

But teams are only allowed to submit 11 names for the ballot, and the Patriots submitted their basic defenses, the front seven, plus four defensive backs. And Jackson may not even be entitled to a starter from Jonathan Jones, who has six starts.

It is shortsighted in the competition to limit the number of names submitted to 11 per team. The issue was fixed when linebacker Anfernee Jennings was dropped from the vote, and Jackson added after his absence became a thing. Hell probably makes the Pro Bowl. He would probably have at least as a replacement without all the noise.

Key matchup

Patriots cornerback JC Jackson vs. Texans receiver Will Fuller

Will Fuller celebrates a touchdown during the Texans' loss to the Browns last week.
Will Fuller celebrates a touchdown during the Texans’ loss to the Browns last week.Jason Miller / Getty

With Gilmore having been limited in practice for the past week after missing the last three games with a knee injury, it makes sense that Jackson would be given the primary assignment of dueling Texan’s best receiver and a legitimate threat in the downfield.

Both players have been doing extremely well lately. Fuller had a touchdown catch in six consecutive games before the streak ended against the Browns on Sunday. He had five catches on nine targets for just 38 yards in that match, but high winds played a part in the match all day.

Fuller, in his fifth season, has long been a mystery to the Texans. He was a prolific player when he was on the field, but that’s the problem; hes had a hard time staying on the field. He looked like he was on the right track to stardom in 2017, but a torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his season after just seven games. He finished that season with 503 yards and four touchdowns.

This season, his first as the No. 1 receiver after Hopkins’ silly trade to the Cardinals, Fuller has been prolific (41-628-6). Better, he was available and played all 11 games. He never played more than 14 in a season.

But did we mention Jackson that he played so well that he made the Pro Bowl even when he wasn’t on the ballot? has itself been on a roll. He did get burned for a few touchdowns against the Jets, but that was a problem. He leads the NFL in interceptions (6), and if he can save one in a sixth game in a row, Sunday, he will set a league record shared by six players, including legends Mel Blount and Lester Hayes. Jackson has the most interceptions of any player in the league since the start of 2018, his rookie season.

Watson hasn’t made a choice since week 5, but given his willingness to shoot with Fuller on the field, there’s a fair chance Jackson will continue his streak.

Prediction

Or do you think JJ Watt ever wears his letterman jacket?

In any case, Watson was paid and signed a well-deserved four-year extension, $ 160 million, in September. Otherwise, there may be reason to be sympathetic to the situation he finds himself in. If he doesn’t participate, the Texans just don’t stand a chance.

Watson leads a Houston foul that averages 266.6 runs, eighth in the league. If the patriots take that away, and you know that that’s going to be Belichicks, there’s nothing else the Texans is suggesting they’ll have a chance.

With Duke Johnson (3.1 yards per carry) apparently coming in second from Ivy Joe Hunter, their running attack averaged just 87.9 yards per game (31st). The Texans are adequate against the pass at best (18th, 241.7 yards per game). And they are porous to flight (32d, 167.4).

The Patriots will try to defeat them by taking down Fuller, and will dominate possession time with Harris, Burkhead, Cam Newton and their progressively fierce attack (161.1 yards per game, third).

Belichick said last week that Texans are very good at everything. I guess he meant it like he did when he told us last season that Washington’s quarterbacks Colt McCoy, Case Keenum, and Dwayne Haskins were all pretty good. It’s wise; the patriots aren’t good enough to get cocky. But they are good enough to make this a three-game winning streak.

Patriots 31, Texans 20.


Chad Finn can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BuienRadarNL.



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