Houston a huge (151⁄2 points) underdog
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Houston Texans face an enormous challenge against the New England Patriots on Saturday night.
The Texans are 1-7 against the Patriots. They are winless in New England all time, including a shutout loss earlier this season when Tom Brady was out because of a suspension.
The Patriots enter the game as 151⁄2-point favorites over the visiting Texans — just the sixth time since 1966 that a team has been favored by at least 15 points in a playoff game.
In the five previous occasions only one underdog — the New York Jets in Joe Namath’s Super Bowl guarantee — won the game.
New England says it isn’t taking anything for granted in its matchup against the NFL’s topranked defense.
But how does Houston, which lost 27-0 in Week 3 to a Patriots team without Brady, go about beating a team that is one of the biggest favorites in playoff history?
“The first thing that jumps out, you have to protect the ball. If you are going to beat the Patriots, especially in Foxborough, you can’t have any turnovers,” Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler said. “If you have turnovers, you are giving Tom additional chances to score points ... and that’s never going to be good for your football team.”
That will be easier said than done against a Patriots defense that has been creating turnovers at a high rate during a sevengame win streak.
New England’s defense went three straight weeks in the middle of the season without forcing a turnover, but had 14 of its 23 total takeaways over the final six games.
The Texans turned the ball over three times in the first meeting. Two of the turnovers — fumbles on kickoffs — led to 14 points.