The final divisional round game features the third regular season rematch of the round. The regular season winner has won one (San Francisco), and lost one (Denver). We just saw Denver lose a game against a team they dominated far more than the Patriots did to the Texans, regardless of what Dan Shaughnessy thinks.
We’ve seen New England lose at home to the Jets, and struggle to beat Baltimore with a last second missed field goal the last two years as large favorites of over a touchdown. Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense rolled through the Texans in the last game. Two fumbles could have gone the other way, but otherwise the offense was largely flawless. New England contained J.J. Watt, and if Brady has time today, he will have a field day. Houston has to make him uncomfortable. A better performance by Watt, the return of Brooks Reed, and a healthier Johnathan Joseph may allow that.
On the other side of the ball, Houston actually moved the ball against the Patriots. They failed on key plays. Schaub threw a red zone interception, and they twice failed to convert fourth downs. If they want to win today, they need to win those key plays. New England has largely capitalized on other team’s mistakes and can give up yards. Houston has to turn them into points.
I picked Houston in the upset. I think that is a value play, even though the Patriots are the better team. We’ll soon see whether Houston, like Baltimore yesterday, can flip the script from the regular season matchup.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]