Kick The Ball Into The Endzone- With the injury bug hitting the team hard and some special teams players not being immune to it, touchbacks need to be our friends. No more of giving our opponent the ball at the 50. No more muffing a punt return because you hear your 275 pound coming for you. No more letting the umpires pin us back to the 10 because of some phantom block in the back.
Know Where The First Down Marker Is- That has been something that we definitely take for granted when it comes to Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. With Brady having to connect with some other guys recently, we have really come up short (pun intended). While knowing where the sticks are is obviously important when running routes, it's also important for the defense to keep in mind. Without rewinding the games and giving you some raw data, my memory is telling me that we've been pretty guilty of letting our opponents catch the ball right on the mark lately.
First downs will be a key thing to watch today as the Texans' defense is best in the NFL with holding their opponents to a success rate of only 28.7%. When it comes to opponent scoring efficiency they are ranked 5th. (No worries, I'll put the hex on them and make them my starting defense today).
Ball Security- Yes, Bill Belichick preaches it and anyone with a clue knows how important it is. We've just got to take care of the damn ball. If we must succumb to the dreaded turnover, it would be more palatable if we did it between the 40s where we aren't taking points off the board or just giving them to our opponents. While the Patriots may still be doing pretty well with the takeaway/giveaway, we are pretty pathetic when it comes to points off turnovers. We are ranked 7th when it comes to interceptions returned for touchdowns with two (last week's killer from our red zone and the fluke against Indy). Defensively, we are one of four teams who hasn't had a defensive touchdown yet. Maybe the Patriots latest cornerback addition, Leonard Johnson, will take one to the house today. Of his 5 career picks, 2 have resulted in touchdowns.
Another thing to pay attention to with Brady and ball security today is if he has trouble locating his teammates. While I didn't get a chance to write it, I started looking at his statistics against teams which have similar uniforms. We'll have to see what unis the Texans wear today to see if it's a factor.