Texans vs. Patriots: What Houston Must Do to Secure Tough Road Victory
The New England Patriots are 22-1 at home in December during the Tom Brady era, so, almost shockingly, it'll take a nearly impeccable game from the 11-1 Houston Texans to win on Monday Night Football.
However, it's certainly a winnable game for the AFC's top seed.
As long as it does these three things.
Pressure Tom Brady Up the Middle
Tom Brady does just about everything correctly as a quarterback, but one of the most underrated aspects of his almost flawless game is the way he drifts away from pressure.
He steps into the pocket better than anyone, often rendering even the most elite edge rushers useless.
Because of that, the Houston Texans must get pressure up the middle to limit the instances in which Brady can confidently step forward into his throws.
Luckily for Houston, J.J. Watt can overpower most interior offensive linemen and is a pass-rushing force who doesn't necessarily need to come flying off the edge to make an impact.
If Watt, Shaun Cody and Antonio Smith can confuse the Patriots' guards and center with a variation of stunts, the Texans will have a great chance to slow down the NFL's highest-scoring offense.
If Brady does get his team out to a halftime lead, the Texans can't panic and start throwing the football uncharacteristically.
With 413 rushes heading into tonight's clash, only three teams have carried the football more than Houston and much of its complementary passing offense is predicated on the deadly play-action pass.
Arian Foster is the best offensive player on the team—sorry, Andre Johnson—and must be utilized around 25-to-30 times regardless of the score.
The Patriots allow only 3.9 yards per carry, but with a 142.5 yards-per-game average, Gary Kubiak's team should be able to run the football effectively.
If the Texans panic and force Matt Schaub to throw it frequently, things could get ugly for Houston in the third quarter.
He has thrown the ball an average of 40 times in his four losses since the start of last season.
Secure the Football
Not turning the ball over is paramount in every football game, but it's especially important this year when facing the Patriots.
New England leads the league with an astounding plus-24 turnover differential and has forced 33 turnovers in 2012.
It has forced 17 of them during its current six-game winning streak.
If the Texans can hang onto the football and not give Brady short fields, their control-the-clock offense and stingy defense will give them a realistic chance to earn the biggest win of the year and arguably the best regular-season victory in franchise history.
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