What We Learned from Houston Texans’ Upset of New England Patriots
Dec 1, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (15) attempts to make a reception during the third quarter against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Texans defeated the Patriots on Sunday night, 28-22. The Texans were up 28-9 at one point, but the Patriots added two touchdowns late before narrowly missing out on an onside kick that could have set up a winning drive.
What did we learn?
James White owns the city of Houston.
The last time the James White played in Houston, he put up a Super Bowl-record 20 total points in the Patriots’ dramatic comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl 51. Against the Texans, White accounted for two touchdowns, adding to his legacy in Houston. While he has not dominated to such a degree as T.Y. Hilton has in Houston, it is insane to see James White put together two of his best performances in the city of Houston.
Mobile quarterbacks are the downfall of the Patriots.
While Deshaun Watson is not as dynamic as a runner as Lamar Jackson, he posed a significant problem to the Patriots’ defense. Watson accounted for four total touchdowns on the day, including a receiving touchdown. All three of Watson’s passing touchdowns came while he was rolling out of the pocket, a testament to how dangerous Watson can be and how the Patriots can be taken advantage of down the field. Watson was not flawless, but this performance should launch him back into MVP consideration
DeAndre Hopkins should never run the option again.
On one of the best play calls of the season, the Texans had a designed option run with DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson. The play ended up resulting in a touchdown pass for Hopkins as he awkwardly tossed the ball forward to Deshaun Watson. It was a spectacular play at the moment, but Hopkins looked like a fish out of the water with his forward pass. It was successful, but it was bizarre. At least it was better than the interception he threw earlier in the season.
The Patriots’ defense is great, but they are not an all-time level defense.
The Patriots came into Sunday night’s game with a defense that was nearly as dominant as the 2000 Ravens in terms of not allowing points. After being touched up for 28 points, the Patriots can nearly kiss the hope of setting the 16-game record for fewest points allowed goodbye. While the Patriots have a very strong defense led by an elite secondary, they have some weaknesses that can be exploited by teams such as Baltimore, Houston, and potentially Kansas City next week. As good as the unit has been for the first 11 games of the season, Houston was able to punch them in the mouth.
The Texans might be in play for a first-round bye.
The Texans now hold tiebreakers over both the Patriots and the Chiefs. While a Chiefs win over the Patriots would help the Texans out, the Texans would have to win next week to keep pace with the Chiefs. The Texans would much prefer a home playoff game rather than a trip to Foxboro in January. However, the Texans did prevail in Kansas City earlier in the season, so they could win in Kansas City if it were to come to that. The Texans proved that they have the capability of beating an elite team.
A look into the AFC playoff picture:
The Patriots, with the loss, fall to the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The Ravens currently hold the tiebreaker, which enables them to have the No. 1 seed in the conference. Moving forward, the Patriots need the Ravens to slip up to re-capture the top seed. Behind the Patriots, the Bills are only one game back in the AFC East. The Texans and Chiefs are only two games back in the playoff race, and the Chiefs could potentially win the tiebreaker over the Patriots if they win the Week 14 matchup.
The Texans jumped back into the No. 3 seed with the win over the Patriots. They are currently tied with the Chiefs for the No. 3 seed in the AFC, but they hold the tiebreaker due to a head-to-head victory. In the AFC South, the Texans are one game up on the plucky Titans. The Texans and Titans play twice in the final three weeks of the season, so be sure to keep an eye on that pair of matchups.
A look ahead to Week 14:
The 10-2 Patriots return home to lick their wounds before a showdown with the 8-4 Chiefs. The Chiefs are coming off a 31-point beatdown of the Raiders that strengthened their lead in the AFC West. While the Patriots swept Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs last season, including a win in the playoffs, the 2019 matchup between the two teams might favor the Chiefs as they have played exceptionally well as of late and the Patriots have struggled.
The Texans host the 4-8 Denver Broncos next week. Despite Denver winning in Week 13 in Drew Lock’s first start, Houston has a vastly superior team and should prevail and apply more pressure to the Patriots in the playoff picture. Denver might keep the game close for the first couple of quarters, but the Texans have enough star power to overcome the Broncos.