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Patriots at Texans: Sunday Night Breakdown

Sunday Morning Injury Report

Keeping Deshaun Watson clean in the pocket will be a difficult task on Sunday night. In conjunction with facing one of (if not the best) defenses in the league, the Texans have placed first-round draft pick and starting right tackle, Tytus Howard, on season-ending IR due to a torn miniscus. The rookie missed 3 games earlier in the season with a sprained MCL.

Either Roderick Johnson or Chris Clark are expected to fill the void in Howard’s absense. Both saw work as starters in a pair of games that the 23rd overall selection in the 2019 draft had missed.

Aside from the Howard news that shakes up an already sub-par offensive line, the Texans will also be without DE Carlos Watkins who will miss this game with a hamstring injury.

As for the Patriots, a contageous illness swept through their locker room earlier this week. New England went as far as traveling in two separate planes in order to arrive in Houston, keeping the sick players away from those not yet feeling any symptoms. 9 total Patriots players are listed as questionable as of Sunday morning and at least 8 were kept from practice at some point this week.

  • S Patrick Chung, Illness/Heel/Chest
  • LB Jamie Collins, Illness
  • OL Jermaine Eluemunor, Illness
  • CB Stephon Gilmore, Illness
  • LB Dont’a Hightower, Illness
  • TE Ryan Izzo, Illness (OUT)
  • CB Joejuan Williams, Illness
  • OT Isaiah Wynn, Illness

Non-illness related, the Patriots will be without 11 year veteran CB Jason McCourty (groin). This McCourty brother has 1 interception on the year, while his sibling and teammate Devin has 5 for the Patriots this season.

Interesting Trends & Stats

  • Vegas has listed this game with a 44.5 implied point total and has New England favored by 3.0 points
  • History has not been on Houston’s side as they have fallen to the Patriots in 10 of 11 previous meetings
  • Deshaun Watson has lost both of his contests against the Patriots by a combined total of 10 points
  • Tom Brady now has 6 consecutive games without throwing 2 or more touchdowns
  • Brady has thrown zero or 1 touchdown in 5 of the last 6 games
  • Deshaun Watson has the better passer rating through 13 weeks at 103.4 compared to Brady’s 88.4
  • Watson has thrown 5 more TDs than Brady with 78 fewer attempts
  • The Patriots offense is averaging 3.2 more points per game than the Texans this season
  • The Houston defense is giving up 12 more points per game on average than the Patriots defense
  • Watson trails Brady by only 43 passing yards on the season
  • Carlos Hyde has 236 more rushing yards than Sony Michel despite having the exact same number of carries at 174
  • Hyde averages 1.4 yards more per carry than Michel
  • Julian Edelman is statistically very close to DeAndre Hopkins. He only trails Hopkins by 5 receptions, 30 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season
  • The NE defense has killed the opposition in the turnover battle, landing at +19 through 13 weeks
  • The Texans are dead even in the turnover department, losing as many as they have received at 14

Key Matchups

An anticipated squaring off between Stephon Gilmore and DeAndre Hopkins will most likely dominate the discussion and teleprompter usuage on Sunday night. Gilmorer has been lockdown all season and is coming off a 1 interception, 4 solo tackle game in which he held Dallas stud receiver Amari Cooper to zero catches on 2 targets. If anything can slow down Gilmore’s stingy shadow coverage this season it would be the great DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins’ catch radius and sticky hands give him the advantage over the other recievers Gilmore has faced thus far in 2019. While many are quick to say that this is a tough matchup for Nuk, lets not forget that this is likely the most difficult for Gilmore as well, making this a matchup focal point for tonight. Hopkins has at least 6 catches in each game since week 5, but only Cole Beasley has reached 6 catches against the Patriots this season. Nuk has averaged 10 targets a game this year, but with Gilmore likely shadowing and allowing only a 37.4 passer rating to opposing QBs when targeted and 45% catch percentage, expectations for a huge Nuk game should be extremely tempered.

Tom Brady vs. the Houston defense or any defense for that matter, is always a matchup to watch. Brady lives in the pocket, where he’s averaged 42 passing attempts per game. The Texans are finally healthy in the secondary but have allowed eight of eleven QBs to score no less than 18 fantasy points per game. The 3 QBs to finish with less than 18 fantasy points were all pegged as backups to start the season. 5 QBs have thrown 3 or more TDs vs the Texans, who have the 3rd worst pressure rate in the NFL. Brady’s 103.4 QB rating is just as good as Deshaun Watson’s when he is kept clean in the pocket. The Texans will need to generate pressure as Brady’s rating dips to 48.3%, 3rd worst in the league, when under duress.

Deshaun Watson against the Patriots defense is a scary thought for fantasy owners. Watson has been inconsistent at best all season, but getting Will Fuller back is critical to Watson’s success as indicated by his career splits. Watson puts up decent numbers on average, but 250 yars in the air and touchdown is basically the most a tough Pats defense will allow, so we will need to see possibly Watson’s greatest effort since week 5 vs Atlanta in order to get QB1 return in fatansy. Only one QB has thrown for more than 214 yards in a game vs the Pats and they have allowed a meager 4 passing TDs this year while intercepting the opposition 20 times. They rank 1st in yards per attempt, touchdown-rate and completion-rate.

Will Fuller diced up the Colts secondary in his first game back from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for 3 weeks. Jason McCourty was expected to see a ton of Fuller in coverage but he has been ruled OUT for this game. This is a significant downgrage in the Patriot secondary as McCourty has 4.3 speed to hang with the flashy Fuller. McCourty has allowed just a 56% catch rate and 9.1 yards per catch this year, but with him out of the line-up I would expect the Texans to attack whoever is matched up on Fuller in hopes of him breaking off a long one. *Interesing note* Fuller has developed into a better route-runner and pass catcher since he dropped a potential playoff game-winner back in 2017 vs New England. This is also the first time the Patriots will face Fuller with Deshaun Watson calling plays for the Texans.

Follow Miles @ff_peacock on Twitter

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