The Houston Texans have been a solid, respectable team for the last five years, despite coming from the weakest division in football. Four winning seasons, three division titles and two playoff wins. However, they have never been considered a true Super Bowl contender. However, that could change this year. If the Texans can finally get the monkey off their back and defeat the New England Patriots tonight, they will be considered one of the favorites in the AFC. They have to be.
The Texans are 1-6 against the Patriots in the all-time season series. Houston has never won in Foxborough and the closest the Texans have ever been to winning in New England was in the 2012 AFC Divisional Round. The Texans lost that game 41-28, but the game was not as close as the score. The Texans lone win against the Pats came in Week 17 of the 2009 season. The Texans were fighting for a playoff spot while the Patriots were sitting starters. The Texans edged out a 34-27 victory, but missed out on the playoffs.
Now, this is not the same Patriots team that has tormented the Texans over the years. They are starting third stringer Jacoby Brissett and Rob Gronkowski, a game time decision, will be limited if he plays. However, it is still Bill Belichick and the game is still in Foxborough. Also, the Texans are historically bad on primetime television. The Texans are 7-17 on primetime games since 2002 and have lost six of their last seven primetime games. The last two times the Texans played the Patriots on primetime they lost 42-14 in New England in 2012, and last year, laid an egg on Sunday Night Football at home, 27-6.
This is a different Texans team this year. The Texans finally have a quarterback with a (B)rocket arm. Osweiler has great options to throw to as well – DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Jaelen Strong are dangerous weapons at wide receiver. Lamar Miller has speed out of the backfield and can catch the ball as well. The defense is as good as it has ever been.
JJ Watt should be close to 100% tonight, and likely will get to a Brissett a couple of times. Jadeveon Clowney looks to finally be playing close to the potential of a #1 overall pick. Additionally, Whitney Mercilus looks to be on his way to a breakout year. The Texans D has given up 12 points in the last six quarters and hope to continue their shutdown play tonight. If the Texans win tonight, watch out. It could be the start of their run to a hometown Super Bowl 51 in February.