Chalk another NFL loss up to 'playing things safe'. Leading 30-28 with 2+ minutes left in the game, the Texas faced a 3rd & 1 right around the Pats 20-yard line. Get a first down and they win the game, essentially. Don’t get the first and kick a field goal, and you leave Tom Brady 2+ minutes with one timeout to go down and score a TD. Getting the first down was everything.
With a mobile QB who was playing pretty well under the circumstances, and any number of options to get that first down…what would you do?
Knowing the game could have been locked up right there. I'm thinking I have my QB go on a run-pass option, potentially after a fake run up the middle. The Texans lineup and run the ball up the middle with their unimpressive running back Lamar Miller…who got stuffed. The Texans kick the field goal to take a 33-28 lead, and Brady does what he does and goes down and wins the game with a TD.
I don’t know what these coaches do all day that they have to sleep on a cot in their office every night but in all that time…could anyone have drawn up a better 3rd & 1 SEASON CHANGING/ENDING play then running up the middle to a stacked line with a low ypc running back, handed off by a mobile QB? Just me thinks this?
The Texans are going nowhere this year because they are miles behind the Titans and Jags in that division – this win could've launched them a bit, but when you play not to lose…these things tend to happen against Tom Brady. You can’t blame Bill O'Brien because he probably doesn’t know much about Brady or know what he's like or anything.
The Texans will be lucky to finish third in the AFC South this year, and I suspect Bill O'Brien will be moving on at the end of the year…and it can all be traced to that 3rd & 1 run up the middle.
The Patriots losing to KC at home can be excused, but almost/should've losing to the Texans…a Texans team without their top corner, linebacker, and O-Lineman…playing at home…? This is not the 16-0 Patriots team we all dreamed about. They're good, potentially Super Bowl champs…but it's nowhere near as certain now. This was a game where the Pats would normally put teams out of their misery, especially versus a rookie QB. The Patriots were lucky to win it. The Pats and Bills might fight to the end for the AFC East. They don’t play each other until Week 13, and by then our computer models would project 6-5 Buffalo facing 7-4 New England. For the Pats, Week 13 begins a three-week road trip of BUF-MIA-PIT before facing Buffalo again in Week 16.
The schedule is set up to keep Buffalo hanging around and the Patriots are showing some falling back to the crowd at this point. I can't imagine the Patriots won’t take the division but keep an eye on Buffalo if they can win a road game or two they shouldn't leading up to Week 13.
Had the Pats lost this game the would have been in last place in the AFC East for the week. They almost did. They should have. This was no fluke just mediocre play, some key injuries, and Brady bailing them out.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- It took 11 quarters of play but I think Tom Brady and Brandin Cooks (5-131-2/7) 'found' each other…and it should be glorious for fantasy ahead.
You saw all the catches Cooks pulled out of his butt in this game, including the miraculous game-winner. What you may not have realized – one of the misconnections between them was a 25+ yard pass where Cooks was wide-open and Brady threw it as his feet downfield. Very un-Brady-like…something I'm saying a lot this year because time is catching up to Brady.
Cooks has 85.3 yards per game this season, after 3 games, and probably should have another 20+ per game on Brady mistime throws. Cooks is so close to being a 100+ yard per game receiver with 3-4 TDs – on limited targets…and still getting used to Brady. He'll likely be into the top 10 overall among WRs for fantasy scoring after this week closes.
You just gotta keep Cooks in the lineup every week because about every other week he's like to have crazy good, outlandish numbers.
-- I'm not a Deshaun Watson (22-33 for 301 yards, 2 TD/2 INT) fan, but I thought he played pretty well in this game. Usually, this is where I’d tear a rookie apart and tell you he got lucky. I would if it were the truth. Honestly, he played pretty well.
I'm not changing my position on him – I don’t think he'll make it as a 'B' or better QB in the league…probably not as a 'C' either, but maybe.
I liked that Watson didn’t look frazzled…at all. I was surprised by that. His throws were confident. His body language was positive.
What I didn’t like is his usual – one read/no read throws to receivers. He also made some plays with his feet, but not as much sitting in the pocket tearing defenses apart.
Like with Tyrod Taylor or Jacoby Brissett…Watson makes plays escaping the rush and either running or passing into broken coverage to extend drives. The downside, keep them in the pocket and they struggle. Watson will be in that Tyrod-Brissett range for fantasy week-to-week. Not a lot of passing, but enough running to be viable for FF as a QB2+.
-- D'Onta Foreman (8-28-, 2-65-0/3) is waiting to happen now. Every loss brings his time closer. Every win keeps him as a split with Miller.
Foreman had a 34 and 31-yard catch and run plays in this one. He is a danger/weapon in the passing game, but Bill O'Brien has nothing creative in his playbook for him in the regular season. In the preseason, he lined up at WR some…he's their 2nd best WR right now…as a 235+ pound RB. O'Brien didn't see fit surprise the Pats with this hidden secret passing game weapon. Again, I have no idea what coaches do in their 25 hour work day.
Foreman is one to watch making a takeover. He can change the Texans dynamic on offense. If they were quick to dump Tom Savage, they should do the same with failing Lamar Miller.
I feel like many will wait on Foreman in 12-team redraft, and then all the sudden 'pow' Foreman is a thing and everyone is scrambling to get him off waivers the following week.
-- I'm a tentative James White (5-17-0, 1-11-0/1) 'buyer'. I loved White's numbers (before this game) but I fear any Patriots RB with the Belichick erratic usage.
I don’t know if White is closer to Tarik Cohen or Shane Vereen at this point…the guy who sees crazy-good targets most weeks and is like a RBaWR or guy who randomly has big catch totals because of circumstances. He might just be New England's Chris Thompson.
I'm not investing a lot, but if someone drops him onto waivers in PPR…or gives him to me for RB3.5 valuation, you could do worse trying to plug up your leaky PPR backfield.
Note – James White's one catch in this game, he was halted just short of the goal line.
-- Ryan Griffin (5-61-1/6) had a nice game here, but I'm just not a fan. He still feels like one of those random TEs that has a nice week one week and then disappears for 3-6 weeks/the rest of the season. It's not like I'm buying into Marcedes Lewis right now either.
Actually, I like Texans TE Stephen Anderson (1-14-0/3) better if I had to choose.
-- I don’t get the Texans going Zach Cunningham (7 tackles, 0.5 TFL) at linebacker over preseason superstar Dylan Cole (1 tackle). 51-14 snaps.
Cole is so much more athletic that he could have covered Gronk 1-on-1 better than anyone else the Texans had. But…Cunningham played in the SEC and Cole is a UDFA, so there we go…another Texans loss.
-- The Patriots have turned Kyle Van Noy (11 tackles) from guy the Lions couldn’t use to guy who is averaging 7.0 tackles per game this season. He might even make a push to be a Pro Bowl'er if he can register some sacks – he's a great pass rusher. He's playing all over for the Pats in the front seven.
Speaking of Patriots defenders we love – Elandon Roberts (9 tackles) played his second game in place of Don’t'a Hightower – he's averaging 8.5 tackles per game.
-- Speaking of the Pats defense…what did I do? Our top defense for 2017 (with PIT and JAC) has been the dud of the top trio. I thought for sure this game would jump-start their run ahead.
Note – Stephon Gilmore hurt his groin and had to leave the game some, while the team is playing without Hightower, who should be back soon. Why Eric Rowe was inactive, I don’t know. Gilmore had an INT and was running it back for a score but got tripped up short the goal line by a few yards…we almost got a payoff on that one alone. Also note, the Texans scored a defensive TD…so NE gave up 26 offensive points technically. Not good but not awful.
The Pats D faces CAR-TB-NYJ the next three weeks, so they have some hope. CAR and NYJ are some of the most sacked teams per game in the league. All the QBs they face in that stretch are having various turnover issues. They aren't a must-start, but they are an option. We'll see if getting healthy and a favorable schedule fixes them. If Cam bops them…then it may be time to head for the hills. If you want to get out now, I can’t blame you.
Buffalo and Washington are options to consider if you didn’t already get PIT or JAX.