The season starts for the New England Patriots here. With the AFC East wrapped up, the push to secure a top 2 seed begins with two very tough home night games. The first of those comes in the form of the Houston Texans, who have a guy who scares the crap out of me on defense...
Defensive MVP favorite J.J. Watt is coming to town. Yikes. The man is a machine, and just the kind of defensive lineman Tom Brady hates playing against. Not only does he have a remarkable 15.5 sacks, but the second year product of Wisconsin has defended an unbelievable 15 passes this season. This just reminds me of Jason Pierre-Paul. During the Super Bowl last season, Brady described throwing as like "throwing through a forest". Not a good thought, especially when Wes Welker will undoubtedly be Brady's main target with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman out. Welker is mainly used over the middle, and it's not like he's the tallest guy on the field...
So, this guy's going to have an impact, so how will the Patriots overcome him? Well, here's one idea:
Belichick likes to "bring out guys with rackets" to simulate defenses that bat down a lot of balls. Brady expects to see that in practice
— Mary Paoletti (@Mary_Paoletti) December 5, 2012
Which should help. The offensive line playing to their full potential and not getting hurt would help as well.
But I think the key to this game will be the screen game. Keep the ball away from the middle, get your blockers to the outside, give it to Welker or Danny Woodhead or whoever. Limit the impact Watt can have on the passing game. Also, you can go deep. The Patriots have loved seam routes this season, Gronkowski and Welker have both had success doing this. This has been another long week for Aaron Hernandez to get fully healthy, and his size and speed up the field will be a key to getting the pass game going.
As always, I'm on Twitter, so follow me here, @BrendanAnnely