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Matt Burke: There are reasons the Texans could keep it close vs. Patriots

Brock Osweiler was the definition of a non-factor the last time he played the PatrGetty Images

The divisional round of the NFL playoffs has given us some of the league's greatest games. It's a round that rarely has push-overs, as wild card weekend typically serves as a football crap strainer. Not this year, though.

The Houston Texans are alive and coming to Foxboro this Saturday night. While it would have been nice (if you like competitive football) to see a healthy Derek Carr and the Raiders this weekend on the 15th anniversary of the Snow Bowl, instead we get a team that the Pats eviscerated, 27-0, earlier in the season with their third-string QB. The divisional round ain't what it used to be.

Houston beating the Pats in New England this coming weekend would classify as one of the greatest upsets in pro football history, as the Vegas line opened up at 16 points. This one should be over by the 10 o'clock news on WHDH, errr, NBC Boston, ahhh, channel 10.

All that said, poop happens. What if - heaven forbid - someone goes all Bernard Pollard on Tom Brady? What if Martellus Bennett is injured and the Pats' tight end-loving offense begins and ends with Matt Lengel? What if the Patriots' defense suddenly reverts back to its October form?

These are all unlikely things, but they are possible.

Here are a few other reasons why the Texans could, possibly, maybe, probably not make this a game.

Remember the Jets

Six years ago the Patriots were 14-2, ready to roll to the Super Bowl, and were hosting a team in the divisional round that they had pummeled earlier in the season. But Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan (Jesus, hard to believe this actually happened) had other plans. The Jets confused Tom Brady, forcing him to a 89.0 passer rating, and put up just enough points to come away with a stunning 28-21 win. These Texans are a bit like those Jets – strong defensive unit with an offense that picks its spots.

Fear mediocrity

Like he did when he was the quarterback of the Broncos in a 30-24 overtime victory over the Patriots last season, Brock Osweiler is at his best when he stays out of the way and lets his much more talented teammates do all the dirty work. Osweiler completed 23-of-42 passes for 270 yards, had a touchdown pass and an interception in the win over the Pats last season and this past Saturday in his playoff debut he was decent enough to complete 14-of-25 passes for 168 yards with a touchdown and zero picks to beat the Raiders, 27-14. Osweiler also ran the ball six times in the victory over Oakland. He gained just 15 yards on the ground, but he found the end zone once.

Reacquainted

"And if that day comes, I know we could win. I wonder if I'll ever see you again." - That's a lyric from a 17-year-old Lenny Kravitz song, but it pertains to the Texans this weekend.

It had a great deal to do with the fact that they were playing in the worst division in football, but the Texans were pretty good this season when it came to games in which they were playing an opponent for the second time. In "second meetings" this season (including playoffs), Houston is 3-1, and the lone loss came on New Year's Day to the Titans in a game in which they had little at stake (the Texans deactivated six starters in that one).

 

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