So, I usually am Mr. Homer and come here to assuage your apprehensions. BUT, not today. I think some people already have the Pats down as chalking this one out easily, most notably the biggest hater of all (well, besides Ron Borges) Dan "Shank" Shaughnessy (who has been high on this particular Pats team, I will give him that). In his column today, he write about how "the 2012-13 Texans? Pure frauds. The worst 11-1 team in the history of the NFL. These Texans have absolutely zero chance of beating New England here next week. And everybody knows that this is true." Now, I know what you are saying, "but Cult, haven't you been saying that same line all year?" Well, yeah, I have. But now, the perception has swung TOO MUCH. It just has me scared. After what happened in the Super-Bowls-that-shall-not-be-named, it has literally gotten to the point where if I am CONVINCED we are going to win a playoff game, I get nervous as fuck that we will lose. I had absolutely zero doubt that we would win both of those games, but managed to lose both of them. For those other Super Bowls? The ones we actually won? My confidence was not NEARLY as high. I thought they would be close games that would go either way, and we won them. So, now, when it looks like we will win, I start second guessing, and below is some of the stuff that is hanging me up.
-Health of the tight ends. So, we finally have both TEs healthy and playing, for what seems like the first time since Week 1. However, while they are both "technically healthy," neither of them has looked like themself lately. Gronk came back last week with that huge cast on his arm and basically looked like he was playing with just the one arm. Hernandez just looks dinged up from all angles. He is short-arming passes thrown to him, dropping balls he normally doesn't and just doesn't seem to have the same YAC ability we have grown to know and love. A lot of people are banking on the week off being the cure-all for both of these guys, but I just am not convinced that extra week is going to put them back at 100%.
-Health of the cornerbacks. Another health related item to get you nice and worried. Both of our starting corners are injured, and it seems like people are forgetting this because we played Jacksonville and Miami the last two weeks, so we weren't overly exposed. Yes, Talib played, but he was freaking limping out there, and was COMPLETELY ineffective. Dennard has been inactive since being injured during the Niners game, and we have seemingly gotten no update on his status. I know we got by Miami and Jacksonville fairly easily with McCourty and Arrington starting at CB, but any time Patrick Chung gets a lot of snaps, you know there are going to be gaping holes that a good QB can expose. The reason people started to get high on this team was because of the improved secondary, and yet the reason the secondary improved are injured, but they are still just as high on the defense? I don't understand it.
-Turnovers. The great playoff equalizer. It is something you just cannot predict. If Patriots turn the ball over and lose the turnover battle, anything can freaking happen, and we've learned that the hard way as most all of our playoff losses has stemmed from losing that turnover battle.
-Bulletin board material. I am starting to get worried that there is a little too much bulletin board material out there for the Texans. They were humiliated out there last time, and everyone and their mother is calling them frauds. Their manhood is at stake this game, and I hate playing against teams like that. Arian Foster already has his twitter avatar Shaughnessy's column. Zolak's tweets about the Texans being frauds has already percolated its way through Houston, etc, etx. It is just starting to get to the point where I see no way we can embarrass them the way we did earlier this year.
As always, follow me @CultOfBelichick or check out my page here: http://www.nepatriotslife.com/search/label/CultOfBelichick
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