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AFC Divisional Round Preview: Texans at Patriots

January 14, 2017 • Ben Heck • AFC East, AFC South, Front Page, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, NFL Playoffs, Predictions, Preview

The best part of January: playoff football.

Following a 27-14 win in the Wild Card round against Oakland last week, Houston will travel up to Foxboro and try to slow down Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s Patriots in this tonight’s AFC Divisional Round match-up.

How the Houston Texans can win…

Brock Osweiler may need the best game of his career in order to put Houston in position to win tonight’s match-up against New England. On defense, Houston will not only need a repeat performance of last week’s game against Oakland, but they may even need to be twice as stout. Sure, they brought the quarterback down three times, picked him off three more times and only allowed Oakland to convert on two out of 16 third downs. But that really isn’t all that impressive given it came against rookie quarterback Connor Cook, who was making his first career start. Jadeveon Clowney played great football, and was all over the field making plays. But can Clowney & Co. do the same thing against New England’s offensive line and a future Hall of Famer in Tom Brady? Probably not.

How the New England Patriots can win…

To put it simply, the Patriots will just need to play typical New England Patriots’ January football. The Brady/Belichick duo is 22-9 in the postseason since the 2001-02 postseason, with two of those nine wins coming in the Super Bowl. Over that span, the Patriots have had just two one-and-done’s, and the 2009 Ravens and 2010 Jets had more talent than this nine-win Texans’ team. I believe that it will really only take a couple of Osweiler mistakes for the Patriots to pull off a victory in this game, but to win handily they may also need a good game from New England’s offense. Just for good measure. Don’t get me wrong, though…I’d love to see a big game from Houston. I just don’t see it being feasible tonight in Foxboro.

Our Pick: Patriots, 34-14

I think Houston’s defense will contain Brady early on, but the combination of TB12 and running back LeGarrette Blount will eventually wear down Houston’s front seven once the second half rolls around. New England moves on.

Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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