Defensive end J.J. Watt is key for the Houston Texans
In order to prevent a repeat of the regular season, J.J. Watt and Johnathan Joseph will have to step up for Houston Texans.
Tom Brady, in particular, was excellent, throwing for 296 yards and four touchdowns. The Houston defense simply had no response.
That can't happen the second time around. Stopping, or at least containing Brady has to be the Texans' top priority.
Watt is the premier pass-rusher in the NFL, yet he was very quiet against New England. He only managed to make four tackles, none of which were sacks or for a loss.
Joseph wasn't bad, making six tackles, but he certainly deserves some blame for the great night Brady had.
These two guys are the biggest keys to Houston grounding the New England air attack.
The team called upon Joseph to line up against A.J. Green in the Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Green eventually got into the game, but Joseph was blanketing the second-year receiver for almost the entirety of the first half.
In the third quarter, Joseph intercepted Andy Dalton. It was one of the biggest plays of the game.
While the cornerback was doing his job in the secondary, Watt was wreaking havoc in the Bengals backfield. He recorded a sack and two tackles for loss, to go with two passes deflected.
Overall, the Bengals have been very kind to Watt, as it was in last year's Wild Card matchup that he intercepted Dalton close to halftime. That play was when football fans across the country became aware of Watt.
The Patriots are not going to be as kind.
When looking at Joseph and Watt, you have to figure that the pass-rusher is the most important of the two.
It's going to be easiest to try and stop Brady while he's still in the pocket. Watt needs to get in his face early and often.
The Patriots don't have an elite group of receivers. However, Brady is so adept that he can check down quickly to find the open man.
Even pressure isn't going to completely halt Brady. It's not like he'll somehow have a crisis of confidence because he's not completing passes. An experienced veteran like Brady isn't really going to be thrown off his game too much.
But getting pressure on him is the best way to force Brady into making mistakes.
The Texans are going to be big underdogs this Sunday. Turnovers could be a great equalizer, whether they come in the form of forcing a fumble from Brady in the pocket or intercepting him in the secondary.