Patriots coach Bill Belichick might not be putting much stock in the team's 42-14 blowout of the Texans back in Week 14, but it's hard to ignore the previous meeting between these two clubs ahead of this weekend's AFC Divisional matchup.
“No, as we all know, when you play a team twice during the season, the games are totally different," he said earlier in the week. "They never go the same way. We’ll be able to certainly look at some of the matchups, individually, of guys that faced each other in the game, but as far as plays and calls and things like that matching up, I’m sure they’ll have some new wrinkles and I’m sure we’ll have some too. It will be totally different.”
And Belichick's probably right. But Houston's Pro Bowl defensive end JJ Watt is using the last get-together as a learning experience for the biggest game in Texans franchise history.
“I mean, nobody likes playing like that on national television in front of the whole country," Watt told reporters on Wednesday via conference call. "You don’t like to put on a showing like we put on last time and we’re really excited about another opportunity to go up there. [It’s] a very tough place to play, obviously a great football team and if you want to win a Super Bowl in this league you have to go through some very, very good football teams and the Patriots are a very, very good football team. …
"You can learn a lot (from the last game),” Watt said of re-watching that film. “You look at formations, tendencies, personnel, everything. You look at the whole big picture, you look at small things, you look at individual players, you look at just about everything and then you try to find ways to use it. Then you also look at what they’ve done since you’ve played them because obviously no team stays the same. You see what they do differently now and you try to figure out what they’re going to do this time.”
As is often the case this time of year, execution will likely decide the outcome. The team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins. Six weeks ago, that team was the Patriots -- by a large margin. How the Texans handle the national spotlight will go a long way in determining their fate.