New EnglandPatriots

Bill Belichick details why Texans QB Deshaun Watson is ‘big challenge' for Patriots defense


Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has one of the most impressive skill sets in the NFL, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick listed many of those talents while explaining why the young star poses such a challenge for his defense in Sunday night's Week 13 matchup.

The Patriots, who lead the AFC standings with a 10-1 record, are set to play the Texans at NRG Stadium in a game that will have a huge impact on the AFC playoff race

Watson is one of the best quarterbacks the Patriots defense will face all season, and one of his best traits is the ability to come through in clutch situations late in games.

"Look, the New Orleans game, they’re down by six with no timeouts, they’ve got the ball on their own 25-yard line, score in 14 seconds – the two big plays to (DeAndre) Hopkins and (Kenny) Stills," Belichick said Tuesday in a media conference call. "Then, the Atlanta game, down by eight, two minutes to go, score on a 50-yard pass on a double-move to (Will) Fuller. Fourth-and-one situations, Watson’s had a couple big keepers like he did against New Orleans and scored from about the 20-yard line or so on a zone read and he kept the ball.

"So, he’s very, very good. He’s a very accurate downfield passer, he’s made some great throws on double-moves, seam routes, post patterns, go routes, things like that. And of course, we all know he’s a very athletic guy with the ball in his hands. So, (he is) dangerous, can score from anywhere at any time, doesn’t take long. It’ll be a big challenge for us for 60 minutes, but even with a few seconds to go, it’s a long way from – any game’s a long way from being over if he has his hands on the ball."

Watson doesn't make many mistakes. His 69.0 completion percentage is the third-highest among quarterbacks who've played seven or more games in 2019. He's also one of just four QBs with 20-plus touchdown passes and fewer than 10 interceptions.

However, his stats versus the Patriots, albeit in a small two-game sample size, are not very good. Watson has completed just 58 percent of his passes (39-for-67) for 377 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions against the Patriots in his career. The Texans lost both games, with the most recent matchup coming in Week 1 of the 2018 campaign.

The Patriots defense has been sensational against the pass this season. New England's D allows the fewest passing yards per attempt and the second-fewest passing yards per game, while leading in interceptions and opposing QB rating. Veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore is the leading candidate for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, and he likely will be tasked with shutting down Texans star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Watson will need to play his best game of the season for the Texans to upset the Patriots and keep their lead atop the AFC South division. The Patriots defense rarely lets mistakes go unpunished, so the margin of error for Watson will be very, very small Sunday night.

Do Patriots or Ravens have tougher road to the AFC's No. 1 seed?

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