Patriots Offense Primed for Breakout Game Against Texans

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Still far from a finished product - and far from what we've grown accustomed to seeing - I felt encouraged by the Patriot offense after Sunday's victory against Dallas.  It certainly looked better than the week prior in Philadelphia.  All things considered - the weather, down two starting wide receivers, a good Dallas defense - their performance wasn't nearly as discouraging as the previous week.

Photo courtesy of USAToday.com
Is that where we are at with this team though?  Looking for moral victories?  The fact remains that they scored just 13 points, and their lone touchdown came after a blocked punt put the ball inside Dallas' 20-yard line.  Their red zone struggles continued, they missed two field goals and they converted just three of 14 third down attempts.  However, there were some positive notes coming out of that game.

First, the run game.  Sony Michel finally got something going, to the tune of 85 yards on 20 carries.  Dallas' rush defense has been average this year, sitting at 15th in the NFL before yesterday's game against Buffalo, so it's not some big feat; but it was one of the team's best performances on the ground.  With the return of Isaiah Wynn, hopefully this is the beginning of a trend.
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I also thought Tom Brady looked better than his numbers suggested.  He made some nice throws, and was also the victim of a couple of big drops by Jakobi Meyers and N'Keal Harry.  The back shoulder throw to Harry in the endzone was beautiful, and I also thought he had a couple of nice downfield throws to Edelman, through the driving wind and rain.

There were some bits of that game that I think the team can build upon moving forward.  Sunday night is a perfect opportunity to do so.

The Houston Texans defense is not the same team that had the third best rush defense last season.  They are devoid of star power.  J.J. Watt is hurt again.  Jadeveon Clowney and Tyrann Mathieu are gone.  Their front seven isn't nearly as intimidating.  A 35-year old Johnathan Joseph is their best cover corner at the moment.  Bradley Roby may make his return this Sunday from a hamstring injury, but hasn't appeared in a game since Week 6.

Houston is 25th in the league against the pass, and have the second fewest interceptions in the league.  They are one of only six teams whose average opponent's passer rating is over 100.  All but three opposing quarterbacks have posted QB ratings of 96 or better.  The three who didn't: Kyle Allen, Jacoby Brissett and Gardner Minshew.  It's worth noting that Brissett and Minshew each did post ratings of 95 or better in their first meeting of the season with Houston.

Their defense feels vulnerable, and reinforcements may be on the way for New England.  Phillip Dorsett is out of the concussion protocol, and appears ready to return to the field on Sunday.  Mohamed Sanu is still limited but could return as well.  Even if only one of these two return, it should provide a lift to this offense.

Add in the fact that they will be playing indoors, in ideal conditions, Sunday feels like it's going to be a breakout game for New England's offense.  They are long overdue.  Brady generally plays well indoors.  He's thrown 44 touchdowns in 21 games.  His average completion is 8.6 yards, which is a full yard higher than his career average of 7.5.  His completion percentage in those games is 67%, and he averages 266 yards per game; both marks higher than his career averages.

In four career games at Houston, Brady has completed 67% of his passes, averaging 287.5 yards per game and has thrown six touchdowns and four interceptions.


All of this is to say that Sunday's game has all the makings of breakout game for the Patriot offense.  If not against Houston's defense, then when?

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Patriots Offense Primed for Breakout Game Against Texans
Patriots Offense Primed for Breakout Game Against Texans
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