The New England Patriots are 10-1. They have the best record in the NFL (tied with the San Francisco 49ers) and have been virtually unstoppable all year.
However, the Patriots have a few roadblocks ahead of them. In Week 13 they are dealing with the Houston Texans. Houston is one of the best teams they faced all year (7-4) and definitely present a serious challenge. The fact that the game is in Houston only makes this more obvious.
That’s not the only issue though. New England is dealing with a lot of injuries. That’s something that could hold them back quite a bit, especially against a team of this caliber.
So how does New England pull out the victory, exactly? Here are four reasons the Patriots could beat the Texans in Week 13.
This is the Patriots. So you usually would not expect a kicker to really be such a massive reason why they might win a game. Especially considering they are 10-1.
That begin said, New England has won quite a few close games recently. And they’ve had problems with their kickers all year.
Now they have moved on to Kai Forbath. He could be the perfect kicker for them.
Forbath has been extremely reliable throughout his career. He has made 85.7% of his field goal attempts (120-140).
New England has used three kickers before Forbath already this year. They are a combined 19-for-25 (76%). Those three have also combined for 29-for-34 on PATs (85.3%).
Forbath should bring some consistency to the position. His leg could play a big part in Week 13.
Wide Receiver Depth
In Week 12, the depth of the wide receiver position for New England was tested. They passed with flying colors.
Phillip Dorsett and Mohamed Sanu were both out. Due to that, two rookies were thrust into very prominent roles. And they produced.
First-round pick N’Keal Harry was playing in just his second game. He had only one catch for 10 yards, but it was also for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers had one of his best games of his career. His four receptions were the second most in a single game in his career (the nine targets were a high). The 74 yards were the most he ever posted as well.
Now this week, Dorsett, Sanu and Julian Edelman are all questionable. However, Edelman is more than likely playing and the other two have much better chances than they did last week. Even if it’s just Edelman though, Harry and Meyers have proven that they can step in just fine. Anyone else is just icing on the cake.
The defense of the Patriots has been a talking point all year long. One look at the stats and it’s obvious why. They’ve been simply dominant.
New England has barely let teams score on them, let alone move down the field.
They are second in the NFL in total yards allowed per game (256.4) and first in points allowed per game (10.6). Meanwhile, they are fifth in sacks (37) and first in takeaways (29).
That’s a defense that has shut down basically every opponent it has faced this year.
Although the Texans have an electric defense, they’ve shown that they can struggle at times.
New England has shown all year that they can exploit the weaknesses of any offense they are going against. They’ll systematically attack it and quickly break down an offense. By halftime, you won’t even be able to recognize it was once a good unit.
The Texans have one of the more high-powered offenses in the NFL. They aren’t without their issues though. Leave it to the Patriots to figure them out and shut them down.
Houston’s Sack Problem
The Patriots are one of the best teams at getting to the quarterback. As I mentioned before, New England is fifth in the entire NFL with 37 sacks. The Texans, not so much though.
Houston has just 22 sacks on the season. That’s the fourth fewest in the NFL. Even worse for them, the Patriots have allowed just 19 sacks all year, that’s fifth fewest in the NFL (Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys lead the NFL with 16 allowed).
So Houston’s inability to get to the quarterback could be an issue any week. The fact that the Patriots don’t allow much pressure makes it that much harder for them.
Of course, it also doesn’t help that Tom Brady is the quarterback. He’s one of the last quarterbacks you want to be giving a ton of time in the pocket to. Sadly for the Texans, that will likely be the case though.
If they can’t get to the quarterback, they probably won’t stop the offense. That sounds like a recipe for a New England win. The Patriots have a tough challenge in Week 13, but they could definitely be walking out with an 11-1 mark, holding on to that mantle as having the best record in the NFL.