HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Foxborough Massachusetts has been a hell on earth for the Houston Texans. In their last three trips there to play the New England Patriots, they’ve lost by a combined score of 110 – 42. Just based on that fact alone, it’s no surprise that the Texans are heavy underdogs heading into Saturday night’s divisional round playoff game.
But 16 point underdogs? That’s a lot. It isn’t the largest all time spread before an NFL playoff game. That honor belongs to the San Diego Chargers, who were 19 point dogs to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX. Still, it’s pretty close. So today at his press conference, O’Brien was asked about the line in Vegas.
“Again, what does that matter?” replied O’Brien. “The only thing that matters is what takes place in between the lines on Saturday night. So I don’t really go to much to the Vegas betting line. I don’t think that would be really a good motivational tool this week.”
Beating the Patriots on the road in the playoffs is no easy task. It’s only happened three times this century – 2010 (lost to the Ravens 33 – 14), 2011 (lost to the Jets 28 – 21), and 2012 (lost to the Ravens 28 – 13). O’Brien was asked how best to motivate his team to be the fourth.
“It’s a different year,” answered O’Brien. Every year is different. It’s not about convincing. Our players are going to walk in here tomorrow with the mindset that they’ve earned the right to be here and that they’re looking forward to the challenge”
“We’re going to have a great week of practice,” continued O’Brien. “And then go up there and play aggressively. And play to win. We’re not going to talk about what went on in the past . . . It doesn’t matter as it relates to Saturday night. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is how each team prepares this week in preparation for the game Saturday night.”
That Patriot success goes way back. I’d list all the accolades, but you guys would probably get on my case. Instead, Bill O’Brien – who coached there from 2007 – 2011 – will tell you why.
“They’ve been there. They’ve done it,” said O’Brien. “They’ve just got really bright people in the building and great players. They’ve been able to sustain and I think that’s a testament to coach Belichick, Mr. Kraft, and their ability to do that.”
It also helps to have quarterback Tom Brady, a front-runner for this season’s MVP award despite playing in 12 games due to his 4 game suspension for “Deflate-Gate”.
“I’ve stated many times that to me he’s the best quarterbacks who’s ever played the game. He’s done it with different types of teams. Different teammates. He’s a great quarterback.”
In those 12 games, Brady has 3,554 yards for 28 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
“Preparation for him, it’s very difficult,” said O’Brien “You have to make sure that you do your job. That your players understand what their role is in the game is and how they’re supposed to perform on every single play.”
There’s only so much you can do against one of the league’s best offenses. Even if you have the NFL’s number one ranked D.
“They’re going to make their share of plays.” continued O’Brien. “I think one of the big things for us is we have to play good, sound, fundamental football. They’re the type of team that if you make too many mistakes they’re going to bury you. We don’t have to be perfect. But we have to limit our mistakes regardless of defense, offense, or special teams.”
Speaking of number 1 rankings, the Patriots defense is first in points allowed this year. The Texans number 1 ranking is because they don’t give up a whole lot of yardage.
“Defensively they pose a lot of problems,” explained O’Brien. “Number one, they’re very well coached. To me they don’t have any weaknesses. They’re strong in the secondary, strong in the second level, and strong up front . . . The whole thing for our offense is we have to go up there and make sure that we take care of the football and execute the game plan to the best of our ability. And understand that once you go up there you’ve gotta go in there with the mindset that you’re going to do it.”
Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” Weeknights on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.