The Houston Texans have heard all the talk before, but this week, it has a more urgency to it. While the Texans understand that the Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC, there is no doubt that Bill O’Brien and his club have every confidence that they can beat this Patriots team. Just ask former Patriot and current Texan Vince Wilfork.
“At this level, you have to be a tight-knit group in crunch time, in critical situations,” Wilfork said. “We’re in it right now. We’re in a playoff game and you have a shot to give yourself a chance to play for the Big Dance. We’re in that spot. So it will have no bearings on how we’ll go up there and how we’ll feel because of what somebody else said. We’re going to go out and play our tails off.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick is of course downplaying the favorites status, as is his teams way, and kept a straight face when he said “This will be a big challenge for us this week…”
“This will be a big challenge for us this week to be able to compete with them.” ~Bill Bilichek~
This time last season, the Houston Texans were the AFC South winners and in the Wild Card game against a the Kansas City Chiefs. The outcome was not what they wanted nor predicted as Kansas City took the Texans to task to the tune of 30-0.
Fast forward a year and the Texans are again the Wild Card game only this time against an Oakland Raiders team that will be starting a rookie at quarterback. The Texans may have been in the same situation with Rookie Tom Savage if he had not been knocked out of the final game of the season. With that, Brock Osweiler will get the start with Brandon Weeden as his backup. Savage went down in the final game of the season against the Titans and went into the NFL concussion protocol and was replaced by Osweiler. Head Coach Bill O’Brien announced that Osweiler would start over Savage whether or not he cleared the NFL concussion protocol.
The Raiders have had quarterback troubles ever since Derek Carr went down in week 16 against the Indianapolis Colts with what would be determined to be a broken fibula. He was replaced by Matt McGloin who in turn was knocked out the game in a week 17 loss against the Denver Broncos. Rookie Connor Cook replaced McGloin and it was announced by the Raiders that Cook would start against the Texans, which indicates that McGloin is not healthy enough to play.
The Houston Texans (6-3, 1st AFC South) took care of business at home against the Detroit Lions (5-4, 1st NFC North) two weeks ago, on the road last weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7, 4th AFC South)and now will head across the border to take on the Oakland Raiders (7-2, 2nd AFC West) on Monday Night Football next week.
“We’re excited about that,” head coach Bill O’Brien said Monday. “I know that (team owner) Mr. McNair and the NFL feel strongly about international play. It’s a pretty short trip for us. We know we’re going to have a lot of fans down there, which is great for our team and our organization.”
The Texans were on the road against the Jaguars last weekend and collected their first road win of the season. For the ailing Jaguars, they have yet to win at home.
“We have to play the game the way we see it playing out,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “We don’t worry about stats. I think everyone needs to understand that in the National Football League it’s all about winning. It’s about winning. Whatever it takes to win that is what we try to do. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but six times this year it has worked out and three times it hasn’t. Hopefully, we can be on the positive side of the ledger.”
The Texans will now set their sites on the 7-2 Oakland Raiders in Mexico City.
“I think they’re playing as one of the best teams in the league,” O’Brien said. “I think that they’re very athletic. I think offensively just watching a lot of their film here over the last couple days, big, big offensive line. Downhill running attack. Derek Carr is playing very, very well.”