Texans-Patriots Playoff: 5 matchups to watch

Texans-Patriots Playoff: 5 matchups to watch
January 13, 2013, 8:00 am
Share This Post

The last time these two teams met, it didn't go so well for the Texans. You remember what happened; the Patriots won 42-14.

But throw that game out the window -- it's playoff time and the stakes are raised.

No one is really giving the Texans a chance to win this game but they do have a shot ... if they can win the following matchups:

1. Wes Welker vs. Brandon Harris

Harris made his debut in the nickel when the Patriots and Texans last met and he did well. Welker had three catches for 52 yards.

Harris did get beat by Donte Stallworth for a touchdown but against Welker, he did well. And since then, Harris has been playing even better. Against the Bengals, he made the biggest play of his young, two-year career.

“Just playing in the playoffs, being able to go out there and compete with the guys and make a couple plays, it really felt good,” Harris said. “It was a confidence booster. It’s the NFL. It’s the playoffs. And you want to be successful. Those are the types of plays I’ll have to make this Sunday.”

2. Andre Johnson vs. Aqib Talib

Andre Johnson called the first matchup between these two teams the biggest game in franchise history. That didn't turn out so well. But while the Texans were beaten 42-14, Johnson actually had a good game. He had eight catches for 95 yards.

“We’ve just got to make more plays than they make," Johnson said. "That’s pretty much it. We’ve just got to go out and make plays and execute our game plan and play the way we know how to play. That’s pretty much it.”

The Patriots acquired Aqib Talib for these kinds of games and he'll need to lock down Johnson on Sunday.

3. Tight ends vs. Texans

Aaron Hernandez had eight catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans couldn't stop one great tight end.

Now they have to try to stop two.

This time, Rob Gronkowski, the 6-6, 265-pound monster will be on the field. He missed the first matchup.

“It’s scary, but they’re better with a great player, and he’s a great player,” Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “Having him as a threat also, that just gives them another threat on the field all the time.”

The Texans were smart not to tip their hand as to how they're going to play Gronkowski. Hernandez will often be spread out, so he'll be the responsibility of the corners. Gronk will be inside a lot more, so he'll likely be shaded by a linebacker or safety.

4. J.J. Watt vs. Brady

OK, Watt will have to beat whoever tries to block him but getting pressure on Brady might be the most important part of this game.

Watt looked human in the first matchup and that probably won't be good enough this time if the Texans want to win.

“I don’t think I played my best game," Watt said. "I think we can all agree on that. I got quite a few hits on him, but obviously the ball was gone. I need to play better and I’m going to play better.”

Aside from just getting to Brady, it will be important for Watt and the rest of the Texans to ge their hands up and bat down passes. It's hard to get to Brady, so they need to do the next best thing.

5. Arian Foster vs. Vince Wilfork

We know, we know. It's not that Arian Foster has to beat Vince Wilfork in some one-on-one battle. In fact, it might behoove Foster to avoid Wilfork all together.

“I think if we play well and play our style of football early, I think we can keep their offense off of the field and they’re a rhythm offense, so if we can help them throw them off rhythm, that might sway the game in our favor," Foster said. "But I think it’s simple for us to play well in all aspects of the game, including special teams, because this team can beat you in every way.”

Foster becomes so important in this game because of time of possession. The Texans nearly doubled the Bengals in that area, which is exactly what they need to do against the Patriots.

What's the best way to stop Tom Brady?

Don't let him on the field. 

Texans - Team News
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue (ankle) remained limited in Thursday's practice. Arian Foster's caddie is in no danger of missing Week 9.
Oct 30 3:41PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) returned to Texans practice Thursday, getting in a limited session. Johnson was never in any danger of missing Sunday's game against the Eagles. With six teams on bye for Week 9, Johnson is a WR1.
Oct 30 3:40PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (knee) returned to Texans practice Thursday, getting in a limited session. The Texans are just managing their superstar back's reps. With DeMarco Murray facing the Cardinals' elite run defense, there's a case to be made for Foster as Week 9's No. 1...
Oct 30 3:39PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue (ankle) was limited in Wednesday's practice. Blue got first-team reps with Arian Foster (knee) not practicing. The Texans also held out Andre Johnson (ankle) on Wednesday.
Oct 29 5:15PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. The Texans are limiting Johnson's reps for rest purposes. He didn't suffer any setbacks last week and should be fine for Sunday's game against the Eagles.
Oct 29 3:43PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster (knee) did not practice Wednesday. It's a new injury for Foster. Coming off his three-touchdown performance, it's possible the Texans are getting him some rest. Foster will be a top-three running back in Week...
Oct 29 3:18PM Read More
Zac Diles - LB
Texans signed LB Zac Diles. CB Elbert Mack was waived in a corresponding roster move. Diles' addition is a sign the Texans aren't expecting Brian Cushing (knee) back for Week 9.
Oct 28 4:04PM Read More
Garrett Graham - TE
Garrett Graham was held without a catch in the Texans' Week 8 win over Tennessee. Graham was targeted just one time on the day, a seam shot from Ryan Fitzpatrick that predictably fell incomplete. Graham has been a very minor part of the offense, making...
Oct 26 4:53PM Read More
Andre Johnson - WR
Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 55 yards in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans. Johnson saw a team-high dozen targets. He was followed by Titans top CB Jason McCourty for much of the afternoon, leaving DeAndre Hopkins to work on sophomore Blidi...
Oct 26 4:44PM Read More
DeAndre Hopkins - WR
DeAndre Hopkins caught five passes for 95 yards in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans. Hopkins was targeted 11 times compared to 12 for Andre Johnson. Hopkins picked up chunk yards on all of his grabs, and was stopped at the five-yard line on one grab where...
Oct 26 4:24PM Read More
Alfred Blue - RB
Alfred Blue rushed for 42 yards on 14 carries in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans. Blue added a 22-yard catch. With the Texans clobbering the Titans late and Arian Foster having already piled up 173 yards and three touchdowns, Blue got plenty of run late...
Oct 26 4:11PM Read More
Ryan Fitzpatrick - QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed just 19-of-35 passes for 227 yards, one touchdown, and zero... Fitzpatrick was pretty bad for most of the day, begging to be picked off, but the Texans rode Arian Foster's legs to victory. Fitzpatrick's lone touchdown went to Foster on...
Oct 26 3:45PM Read More
Arian Foster - RB
Arian Foster rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in the Texans' 30-16, Week 8... Foster managed just 36 yards on his first 10 carries, but broke a 34-yard touchdown and had no trouble finding holes in the Tennessee defense from there on. Foster caught a...
Oct 26 3:21PM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is active for Week 8 against the Titans. Clowney will play on a "pitch count," likely in pass-rushing and third-down situations. Good luck with Clowney and J.J. Watt, Zach Mettenberger. Inactive for the...
Oct 26 10:34AM Read More
Jadeveon Clowney - LB
Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) is likely to play against the Titans, but will be on a... "I thought what he did what he had to do this week," coach Bill O’Brien said. "I think he’s got a good shot to play on Sunday." Clowney has been...
Oct 25 9:13AM Read More

More Team Talk