Game Predictions & Player Projections - HOU vs. NE

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: HOU 10, NE 34 (Line: NE by 15.5, O/U = 44.5)

UPDATE: Malcolm Mitchell is questionable to play and was limited in all practices because of his knee. With a sudden wealth of wide receivers, Mitchell is no lock to play and numerous sources are expecting that he will be inactive. I am removing him from the projections based on the risk that he may not play. He won't be needed to beat the Texans and would be better served healing up for later games.

The forecast is for around 29 degrees with no real wind and clear skies.

This is likely to be the blowout of the weekend. Fortunately they made it as the late game on Saturday so you can go out and not miss anything. The incoming Texans present such a lackluster opponent that the game is bound to end up as a disappointment since the Pats should be able to have their way with them. This is one week where the Texans defense is not going to be nearly enough to get the win.

This is the second meeting of these teams. The Patriots already won 27-0 in New England in Week 3. And that was without Tom Brady.

Houston Texans

1 CHI 23-14 10 @JAC 24-21
2 KC 19-12 11 @OAK 20-27
3 @NE 0-27 12 SD 13-21
4 TEN 27-20 13 @GB 13-21
5 @MIN 13-31 14 @IND 22-17
6 IND 26-23 15 JAC 21-20
7 @DEN 9-27 16 CIN 12-10
8 DET 20-13 17 @TEN 17-24
9 BYE ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU vs OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Brock Osweiler 20 200
RB Lamar Miller 50,1 1-10
WR Will Fuller 3-30
WR DeAndre Hopkins 5-60
WR Wendall Williams   2-30  
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz 5-70
PK Nick Novak 1 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The Texans beat the Raiders thanks in no small part to Derek Carr missing the game. The defense remains one of the better units in the NFL and the offense is still one of the worst. The only hope the Texans have here is if they can somehow hold the Patriots under 20 points while posting one of their best games of the year. On the other hand, their first points in the game will be more than they managed in Week 3.

QUARTERBACK : Brock Osweiler only passed for 196 yards and no scores in New England in Week 3. He lost the starting job to Tom Savage in Week 15 but then got it back when Savage suffered a concussion. Savage is healthy again but will be the back-up this week. A more interesting side bet is whether or not Savage ends up coming into the game as some point.

RUNNING BACK : Lamar Miller rushed for 80 yards on 21 carries in New England last time and that was more carries than expected for a team that was shutout. He added four catches for 27 yards as well and has been much more productive since midseason. Miller is on a three game streak of scoring a touchdown and is the most likely to score for the Texans. But he'll need a higher volume of carries to post anything notable this week and that is unlikely to happen unless the Texans just give up and run him.

WIDE RECEIVER : DeAndre Hopkins settled for only four catches for 56 yards in New England this year while Will Fuller only caught three passes for 31 yards. Fuller has not scored since Week 4 and has not been a factor since a hot start in the first two weeks. Hopkins scored last week on the Raiders but only totals three touchdowns since Week 2. He'll be a marked man just as he was the first time they met.

TIGHT END : Ryan Griffin had a season high eight catches for 52 yards in the first meeting but C.J. Fiedorowicz took over as the primary in the very next game. But even he has only scored once in the last eight games and hasn't broken 45 yards since Week 11..

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: No need to break down an ineffective offense. The Texans best hope is that the Pats relent later in the game since they won't want to risk players with a big game coming next week. But none of these players had any success in the first meeting other than the tight end Ryan Griffin. There is no reason to rely on any Texan but Miller might end up with moderate yardage again as he did in Week 3.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points HOU 31 27 30 6 9 23
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 9 7 9 8 2 1

New England Patriots

1 @ARI 23-21 10 SEA 24-31
2 MIA 31-24 11 @SF 30-17
3 HOU 27-0 12 @NYJ 22-17
4 BUF 0-16 13 LA 26-10
5 @CLE 33-13 14 BAL 30-23
6 CIN 35-17 15 @DEN 16-3
7 @PIT 27-16 16 NYJ 41-3
8 @BUF 41-25 17 @MIA 35-14
9 BYE ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
HOU at NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 250,2
RB LeGarrette Blount 80,1
RB James White 10 3-20
RB Dion Lewis 60 1-10
WR Julian Edelman 7-70,1
WR Chris Hogan 1-30
WR Malcolm Mitchell 3-50,1
WR Michael Floyd   4-50,1  
TE Martellus Bennett 2-20
PK S. Gostkowski 2 FG 4 XP

Pregame Notes: The season has been mostly something to keep the Pats busy until the playoffs begin and as it works out, they get the softest matchup of any team in the postseason. At home no less. The weather may be around freezing but clear skies and no wind. The hardest part of this matchup is deciding on which players are most likely to succeed. It is notable that the Patriots shut out the Texans without Tom Brady.

QUARTERBACK : Tom Brady was still on suspension in Week 3 but Jacoby Brissett passed for 103 yards and rushed for 48 yards and a score in the blowout. Brady at home has been good for at least a couple of passing touchdowns. The rushing effort has been good enough that Brady has not needed to post many scores to win.

RUNNING BACK : LeGarrette Blount ran for 105 yards and two scores on 24 carries in Week 3 and with 18 touchdowns on the season, he's about as close to a lock for a touchdown as any back. James White has faded in recent weeks and is not getting more than three catches per week. Dion Lewis is taking over 10 carries in each of the last three weeks and is lowering the touches for Blount. But Lewis still has not scored this year.

WIDE RECEIVER : The wideouts are back to full strength with Danny Amendola back from his high ankle sprain that forced him to miss the last four games. Malcolm Mitchell was held out in Week 17 to rest his sore knee but is back to health. Chris Hogan is still a very minor factor and is not reliable for more than one catch. Julian Edelman is consistently good for 80 yards per week but only scored three times this year and all were in road games. Edelman is always a factor but the other wideouts are much less reliable though all possible to score. Just to make it even worse, Michael Floyd caught a touchdown last week in Miami.

TIGHT END : Martellus Bennett only had two catches for 10 yards in the last meeting with the Texans and he's been limited to only two or three catches per week though he scored three times over the last four games.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Texans defense is still formidable but allowed a touchdown or more to every road quarterback and more often relented for two or three touchdowns. Brady should be good for a couple of scores and decent to good yardage but is less likely to have a monster game here if only because it will not be needed. The rushing offense was successful last time and should see just as much success in this go around. Figure Brady added to the mix means plenty of rushing attempts in the second half when the Pats are likely to be just running out the clock and looking forward to next week.

Any passing score is most likely to end up with a wideout but which one is hard to forecast. There are reasons why Brady would want to integrate Mitchell, Amendola, Floyd or Hogan into the mix particularly since Mitchell and Floyd are new to the team. Brady is a good bet for a good but not great game. Blount should score again. The rest is going to be hard to rely on - and to defend as well.

I like a defensive score here.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 6 6 21 5 8 18
Preventing Fantasy Points HOU 3 12 4 3 13 18

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