The Houston Texans are the largest underdog for a playoff game since 1998, when the Arizona Cardinals traveled to Minnesota to face a high-powered Vikings offensive attack. This time, the Texans currently sit as a +16 underdog to the #1 seed in the AFC, the New England Patriots.
The Texans know they are not expected to go into Foxborough and win this game but the team is only worried about the people inside the walls of NRG Stadium. With the season on the line, the Texans have mixed feelings on being underdogs but are locked in on what they need to to pull out the win.
Bill O’Brien is not too concerned about the point spread but his team has some thoughts as they head into the divisional round with few believers.
“There’s not many people that’s expecting us to go in there and compete and win this game, but we don’t really care about that that much. We know we’re here for a reason,” said Duane Brown. “We know we have a big opportunity heading into this weekend. We know it’ll be very tough. We know the kind of challenge that they bring, but our team is very confident. We really believe in each other. We have a lot of unity and I think we really played that way last week and we’re going to keep that going this week.”
Some veterans try not to get caught up in that talk and limit the distractions heading into Saturday.
“We’re not occupied with any of that talk or anything like that. We understand what we have in this locker room,” commented Whitney Mercilus. “We’ll prepare the best we can this week and go out there and play hard.”
Lamar Miller is staying grounded for the trip to face the Patriots.
“I know some people pay attention to that, but I really don’t pay attention to that,” Miller explained. “We just have to go out there and play football. At the end of the day, we still have to go out there and play a game. On Saturday, that will determine everything.”
“One of the mentalities this week going into this game is we’re the underdogs, always been underdogs all season and let’s go out there and prove to them why we’re here in this second round now,” Jadeveon Clowney mentioned. “So, it’s time to go out here and compete.”
This is the second time the Texans and Patriots have faced each other in the playoffs, with the last meeting coming in 2013, resulting in a 41-28 win by the Patriots. The Patriots are 7-1 all time against the Texans and have already beat the Texans in the regular season this year, when they beat the Texans in a week three contest without Tom Brady, 27-0.
All of these factors are adding up to why the Patriots are heavy favorites on Saturday, but those in the organization that know every game is a new day and opportunity to handle business.
“I think it fuels everybody. At the end of the day, like I said, this game is about respect from the opponent across the line and either way it goes, you know you see things like that,” said A.J. Bouye.
Cornerback Kareem Jackson is tired of the talk and is focused on the game at hand. He sees this chance to get to the AFC Championship and if many do not believe in the Texans, that is fine by him.
“At this point, it is what it is. The only thing that matters is what the guys in this locker room think. So, at the end of the day, me personally, I could care less what everyone else says,” Jackson stated. “You’re not in this locker room. You aren’t wearing the same colors as me. It really doesn’t matter what you say.”
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