The Texans will need some Dehsaun Watson moments like this one from the preseason, if they are going to pull off the upset.
The Texans will need some Dehsaun Watson moments like this one from the preseason, if they are going to pull off the upset.
Photo by Eric Sauseda

NFL, Week 3: Texans-Patriots — Four Things to Watch For

There's been a ton of talk lately about Roger Goodell, the renewal of his contract, and all of the political machinations between the owners behind the scenes to try and drive divergent agendas. I don't know about all that, but If there is one thing that I am certain of it is this — the NFL schedule maker has a clear bug up his or her butt about the Houston Texans!

How else do you explain the Texans having to go to New England on short rest last season in Week 3 to play the Pats. And then the bullying that comes with reminding the Texans of last season's failure by placing them in Week 3 against the Pats AGAIN this season! It's mean, it's unfair, and it's borderline evil!

Sorry, those previous two paragraphs were me channeling my inner futility, and trying to find some reason the Texans have fared so poorly in New England through the years, other than the obvious — the Patriots are just a lot better than they are. I mean, the Texans are winless in New England in their history, losing by an average score of 37-13.

Soooooo... now they go to Foxborough to face Bill Belichick, and they do it with a rookie QB. Did I mention no rookie QB has ever beaten a Belichick-coached team on the road? Yeah, so, there's that, too. Here are a few things to watch for this weekend as we pray for the upset...

4. Whose turn is it?
If we, as Texan fans, are going to count our blessings, we can take some solace in the fact that Tom Brady's receiving corps is a little bit banged up. Rob Gronkowski is dealing with a groin issue (but should play), Julian Edelman is out for the season with a torn ACL, and wide receivers Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan and Philip Dorsett are all banged up. Also, in the backfield, Rex Burkhead, who killed the Texans in the preseason, has a rib injury. History tells us that Brady will just make some other average player famous — what up, Dion Lewis! Oh hey, James White! But if the Texans are looking to lay the wood on receivers, this would be the week.

3. Watson spreading the wealth
Through the first two games of his NFL career, one thing is certain about Deshaun Watson — he really, REALLY likes throwing the ball to DeAndre Hopkins. Through two games, Hopkins on pace to be targeted roughly 80,000 times. (That's an estimate.) One thing we know about Belichick is that he LOVES to take away your No. 1 weapon. So Watson will HAVE to find other targets. Ryan Griffin's return from a concussion will help, as will Bruce Ellington's. But the formula for any semblance of success on offense may very well come from...

2. RB tandem
...YES! The pairing of Lamar Miller and D'Onta Foreman, or more to the point, the continued ascension of Foreman from an afterthought in the loss to Jacksonville in Week 1 to the eventual bell cow running back for this team. With Will Fuller still a couple weeks away from returning (he was back at practice this week) from a broken clavicle, Foreman is the only skill player that has the potential to take a short play and turn it into a long run. He needs 15 to touches in this game if the Texans are going to win.

1. The Big Three getting stats
We knew the Texans would be offensively challenged heading into the season, so that they're 1-1 and bad on offense isn't totally shocking. However, that they are 1-1 and J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus have combined for fewer sacks than Kareem Jackson... now THAT is unexpected. Of the three players, Watt has been the clear cut best so far (no surprise there), and probably would have a couple sacks already, if he had finished plays in the Cincinnati game. He was the best defensive player on the field that night. (NOTE: Geno Atkins was great for the Bengals, but he was going against Xavier Su'a-Filo, so that doesn't count.) The Texans will need at least three sacks of Brady in this game, and when any of the above listed (D.J. Reader and others are also invited) get a chance to wallop Tom Brady, they must take it.

SPREAD: Patriots -13
PREDICTION: Patriots 27, Texans 13
RECORD: 0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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