Football

Texans bring elevated confidence against top-seeded Patriots

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler looks to pass as New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long rushes during the Sept. 22 matchup. The Patriots shut out the Texans 27-0.
Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler looks to pass as New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long rushes during the Sept. 22 matchup. The Patriots shut out the Texans 27-0. AP

Texans (9-7) at Patriots (14-2)

7:15 p.m., KTVT/11

Line: Patriots by 15  1/2

When Houston and New England met in Week 4, rookie third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett was at the helm for the Patriots. Even so, New England was able to shut out Houston 27-0. Brissett will not be starting at quarterback in Saturday’s AFC Divisional playoff game; Tom Brady will. No quarterback in NFL history has had as much postseason success as Brady, the all-time leader in postseason yards (7,957), touchdowns (56) and wins (22). In 2016, Brady set an NFL record with 28 touchdowns and two interceptions, the best ratio in league history. On defense, the Pats’ gave up a league-low 15.6 points per game this season.

The Texans, whose defense allowed a league-low 301.3 yards per game, come in with an elevated level of confidence despite being a heavy underdog. Houston is coming off one of its best performances of the season after defeating the Oakland Raiders 27-14. The Texans defense forced 10 punts, allowed 203 yards and forced three turnovers. Quarterback Brock Osweiler did not turn the ball over after giving it up 17 times in 14 regular-season starts. Similar efficiency will be essential if the Texans are to leave Foxborough with a win. The Patriots are 15-3 in home playoff games since Tom Brady took over in 2001.

Key statistic: New England has made five consecutive AFC championship appearances. A win would set an NFL record with six in a row.

Seahawks (10-5-1) at Falcons (11-5)

3:35 p.m., KDFW/4

Line: Falcons by 4

Before Dan Quinn became Atlanta’s head coach in 2015, he was defensive coordinator on Seattle’s back-to-back Super Bowl teams (2013, 2014). Saturday, Quinn makes his postseason debut as head coach against the same team that he helped reach the NFL pinnacle. The Falcons offense, led by MVP candidate quarterback Matt Ryan, finished the regular season with 540 points (33.8 per game), seventh-most in NFL history. Ryan, who is 1-4 in the postseason with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions, finished the regular season with 4,944 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Receiver Julio Jones finished with 1,409 receiving yards and will draw coverage from Seahawks corner Richard Sherman, whose 30 interceptions since 2011 leads the NFL.

Seattle comes to Atlanta a week after rolling past the Detroit Lions 26-6 at home. In that game, running back Thomas Rawls rushed for 161 yards, a Seattle postseason record. Quarterback Russell Wilson improved his career playoff record to 8-3, but he is only 3-3 on the road. In the regular season, Seattle was 3-4-1 on the road and averaged 15.9 points in those games. The Seahawks beat the Falcons 26-24 in a Week 6 matchup in Seattle, the only time the two teams have met since Quinn moved to Atlanta.

Key statistic: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s 1-4 career playoff mark gives him the lowest winning percentage (.200) of any quarterback to start at least five postseason games. That one win, though, was at home against Seattle after the 2012 season.

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