Patriots-Texans Game Day Notebook: Roster Elevations, Game Prediction and More

Will the Pats Overcome an Onslaught of Injuries to Return to the Win Column in Houston on Sunday?
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The New England Patriots traveled to the Lone Star State to take on the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium at 1:00pm ET on Sunday, October 10 in Week Five of the 2021 NFL Season.

The Patriots will face Houston for the seventh straight year in the regular season, and for the third straight year in Houston, Texas. Overall, the Patriots have met Houston 13 times and hold a 10-3 advantage since Houston entered the NFL in 2002. The Pats are 8-3 in the regular season and 2-0 in the postseason against the Texans. The Patriots are 3-3 overall against the Texans when playing in Houston, including a 27-20 loss on Nov. 22, 2020.

Viewing/Listening:

TELEVISION

This week's game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Andrew Catalon will handle play-by-play duties with James Lofton as the color analyst. Amanda Balionis will work from the sidelines.

RADIO

98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 35 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The game will be produced by Marc Cappello.

Patriots Roster Moves and Elevations:

New England has placed right tackle Trent Brown on injured reserve, meaning that he will miss a minimum of three games. The 28-year-old had not practiced all week, indicating that he had suffered a setback while tending to his calf injury. Brown has not taken a regular-season snap since leaving New England’s Week One matchup with the Miami Dolphins early in the first quarter.

As a result, the Patriots have elevated offensive linemen Alex Redmond and rookie Will Sherman from the practice squad as standard elevations. They were also granted two COVID roster replacements, which went to offensive lineman James Ferentz and defensive back Myles Bryant.

Texans Roster Moves and Elevations:

The Texans placed veteran offensive tackle Marcus Cannon on injured reserve Saturday due to a back injury. Cannon, 33, acquired in a trade from the Patriots this offseason, is dealing with a painful disc issue that has caused sciatica, per sources. Houston reserve lineman Charlie Heck is slated to replace him at right tackle Sunday against New England.

Meanwhile, the Texans elevated backup quarterback Jeff Driskel as a COVID-19 replacement, with defensive tackle Ross Blacklock on the reserve-COVID-19 list. Driskel will back up rookie starter Davis Mills, as Tyrod Taylor remains on injured reserve with a strained hamstring.

The Texans have also elevated wide receiver, and special teams contributor Chris Moore as a standard elevation.

Patriot Maven Game Prediction:

Essential on Offense:

With the Patriots starting a makeshift offensive line on Sunday, the focus will be on getting the ball out of Mac Jones’ hands quickly. That likely means a heavy dose of Damien Harris and the running game, as well as utilizing the tight ends in short yardage situations. Houston plays a soft two-deep zone, leaving plenty of opportunities for the types of short, underneath passes Jones has completed with great efficiency. When Jones does look for a receiver, Jakobi Meyers is likely to be his first and most reliable option, followed by Kendrick Bourne in the slot. It should also be noted that Houston’s pass defense is a bit better than advertised, allowing the ninth-fewest PPR points to opposing receivers this season. Therefore, tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry should get looks for short yardage gains, especially in the red zone.

Essential on Defense:

Simply put, New England needs to marginally disrupt the productivity of Texans’ wide receiver Brandin Cooks. The former Pats’ speedster is one of the most-targeted receivers in Houston’s offense, as well as in the league. As such, he figures to get frequent looks from Texans’ quarterback Davis Mills. However, Cooks will likely be matched-up with Pats’ cornerback J.C. Jackson. In the wake of the trade of Stephon Gilmore to the Panthers, Jackson is playing with some extra motivation this week. When speaking to the media on Thursday, Jackson sounded determined to keep Cooks within his reach at all times, promising to play him in both a fast and physical manner. As Bill Belichick is noted to take away his opponent’s greatest strength, he is likely to have Jackson (along with slot corner Jonathan Jones and some help from the safeties) limit Cooks’ touches on Sunday.

Final Analysis:

Despite the Patriots’ woes along the offensive line, Jones should be able to find enough space to operate and move the ball effectively. However, if the Patriots are to be successful on Sunday, it will be on the strength of their defense. Houston has had great difficulty moving the football on the ground. The trio of Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy and Christian Barmore should be effective in limiting the Texans’ ground attack. As a result, the Pats’ pass rush should be able to confuse and pressure quarterback Davis Mills. Though Houston will not make it easy, the Pats will do just enough to return to the win column in Week Five.

Final Score Prediction: Patriots 17, Texans 14