John's Well Educated Guesses - Week 3

It’s always been my dream to start a blog series that would go until the end of the season.  This is one blog in that series, and I will answer for my predictions next week. 
Disclaimer: My takes are almost always correct.  So buckle up- buckaroo

Coming in at 1-1, the Patriots have another tough test against a 2016 playoff team.  Not that it’s any great accomplishment to win the haphazard AFC South, but a playoff team is a playoff team.  This contest should probably have some big seeding implications at the end of the year.  After losing to another contender in the opener, it goes without saying that this is a big game.

The Texans seem to have everything together…except at Quarterback.  Their front seven is elite with JJ Watt and Jadaveon Clowney on the edges.  Whitney Mercilus also provided a lot of disruption in the playoff game last year collapsing the pocket in the middle.  Also of note, their cornerbacks are some of the few that are able to challenge the Pats at the line and disrupt routes.  We all know that if you play zone, Brady will kill you.  The Texans have shown they recognize this and have the personnel to make it a long day for Tommy Boy.

That being said, they have never had the right guy to keep up the scoring.  The Brock Osweiler situation blew up like a bad science experiment…they had to dump a second round pick to the Browns just to get back to where they were before.  After some shoddy O-line play in the first two games, Bill Obrien has opted to play Deshaun Watson.  His mobility is better suited to cover up their deficiencies up front.

All in all, Houston seems like a team that is still one piece away.  They have done their best to copy-cat the Patriots program.  Consistently bringing in Patriot greats like Mike Vrabel, Vince Wilfork, Larry Izzo and now Wes Welker.  It’s clear they want to build a winning program and recognize the blueprint to do so.

I expect the Texan pass rush to cause problems, and the Patriots offense might not look so surgical at times.  Otherwise, I just don’t see a rookie quarterback coming into Gillette and having the horses to keep up.  It should also be interesting to see who is able to suit up for the Pats as that will be a big X factor.  If half the team is unable to play, all this analysis goes out the window.

Prediction: Watt and Clowney will both get a sack: It’s really weird that both of these guys have not been able to get to the quarterback in the previous two games.  Almost seems like a numbers game, and they are due to make their mark in the backfield.  With Marcus Cannon in the concussion protocol, the O-line could also be shorthanded.  I anticipate that Brady will get the ball out early on a regular basis, but when he can’t (remember the press coverage), he will turtle and take a few sacks.  He knows that as long as he doesn’t make huge mistakes, the Texans can’t keep up.  We will sacrifice a few drives with this in mind.

Prediction: Belichick will take Deandre Hopkins out of the game:  I am literally going to copy and paste my analysis from week 1 regarding Travis Kelce.  Hopkins is obviously their best receiver and without him they are going to have a hard time keeping up: 
If anyone understands the power of the (WR) position its Big Billy B.  I expect (Hopkins) to be bracketed, and to have a nothing stat line (sorry fantasy owners (and full disclosure, I own Hopkings in my league…fuck)).   I think the emphasis will be on making it hard for (Houston) to operate their offense, and he is too big a cog to let run wild.  

Prediction:  It will be a big day for wide receivers running the football:  I’ll do one more prediction on how the Pats will attack this defense.  I really loved a wrinkle they introduced last week by having Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett run the ball on end-arounds.  It gets the ball out super quick, and it’s a great way to take advantage of their turbo speed.  It also keeps the defensive edge players honest.  You know they want to disrupt the backfield and get Brady off his spot…If they have to set the edge instead of pin their ears back and rush, it gives Brady an extra second to find the open man.  Also keep an eye out for the Jet Sweep and a quick dump screen to be effective for the same reasons.

Prediction:  28-20 Pats