Patriots vs. Texans: 3 keys to game, fun facts, prediction

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Coming off their best win of the season, the Patriots will travel to Houston to take on the 2-7 Texans Sunday afternoon.

The Patriots are now 4-5 and have inserted themselves back into the AFC playoff race. With that being said, they are still in 10th place and two games back of seeds 5-9. With only seven games remaining, every game matters so for as good as last week’s win was, it means nothing if they don’t take care of business this week.

These teams are very familiar with one another as this will be the sixth straight season the two teams have faced off, including the playoffs. Overall, the Patriots have won eight of the last nine meetings, although Houston won last year.

Houston still has Deshaun Watson at quarterback and several playmakers on defense, so it is a team not to be overlooked.

Patriots vs. Texans
Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020
1:00 p.m, CBS
Patriots -2, over/under 49

3 keys to the game

Continue to run ball well

The Patriots have rushed for at least 159 yards the last three games and that has been a major reason why the team has turned things around a bit on offense. Damien Harris has rushed for over 100 in two of them, so it will be important for him to keep it going. Houston comes into the game last in the league defending the run, allowing 167 yards per game, so this seems like a perfect game for the Patriots to keep rolling on the ground.

Take care of the ball

Another reason for the Patriots’ two-game win streak is they haven’t turned the ball over in the two games, the first two times they haven’t turned the ball over all year. Just like Houston struggles against the run, it also doesn’t force many turnovers, as it has just five on the year. If the Patriots don’t turn the ball over, they have a very good chance of winning the game. The Patriots enter Week 11 with a 71-9 record in zero turnover games since 2008.

Don’t allow many big plays

While Houston is 20th overall on offense this year, it is eighth in passing offense, so Watson along with Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks are always a threat to make plays. The Patriots defense needs to be aware of this and not let the big plays it allowed against the Jets to happen again. The unit should get Stephon Gilmore back, so that should be a big help.

Fun Facts

1. Of Harris’ touches this season, 74.7 percent of them have have come on first down, the highest rate in the league for all running backs. Meanwhile, Houston is allowing a league-high 5.7 yards on first down rushing attempts.

2. Over the last four games, Jakobi Meyers has a 38 percent target share, the second-highest in entire NFL.

3. Newton has scored nine rushing touchdowns in 2020, and is on pace for 16 for the season. That mark would set a new NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a QB.

4. Since 2000, the Patriots are 53-3 in the regular season when they have a player rush for at least 100 yards.

5. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Patriots currently have a 21 percent chance of making playoffs. If they beat Houston it would go up to 30 percent. If they lose, down to seven percent.

Prediction

Patriots 27, Texans 20

Things trend towards New England this week as its strengths matchup against Houston’s weaknesses and then Houston’s strength lines up with one of New England’s strengths. If the Patriots get off to a good start and build a lead, they should be in good shape. One thought is this could be a let-down game after the big win last week, but when they are where they are when it comes to the playoffs, every game matters.