Analyst says Watson 'magic' gives Texans shot at Patriots

by - Staff Writer -
Deshaun Watson makes his second career start at the defending Super Bowl champs Sunday. (USA TODAY sports-David Kohl)

Deshaun Watson's Houston Texans are currently two-touchdown underdogs for their 1 p.m. game Sunday at New England.

But the former first-round pick enters the matchup 1-0 as a starter, and his track record is giving some reason for hope on the road.

"I think the Texans have a tremendous chance because I believe New England has some holes," FS1 analyst and NFL hall of famer Cris Carter said. "I believe they have some deficiencies. I don't think their offense can sustain enough to protect their defense - against the right team...Deshaun Watson has magic in him. Is he able to have magic this Sunday at Gillette (Stadium)? It's very difficult...Eventually, some rookie is going to beat (New England coach Bill) Belichick."

ESPN analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi concurs, even going as far as picking the Texans.

"There is something about this kid. I like Deshaun Watson. This game right here he has to be ready to looks he hasn't seen before," Bruschi said. "This is my upset for the week. I’m going with Houston Texans...That staff of Mike Vrabel, Romeo Crennel and Bill O’Brien and this kid Deshaun Watson. I’m telling you, there is something about him. The big stage, he isn't scared of it. He will make a play.”

Houston Chronicle beat writer John McClain says Watson, whose 49-yard TD rush was the deciding score in a 13-9 win at Cincinnati last week, will be ready for the moment facing the defending Super Bowl champs.

"A lot of people go, 'Oh my goodness. The game is going to be too big for him. He's going to be intimidated,'" McClain said. "Give me a break. Deshaun Watson played in two NCAA championship games in the last two years and two semifinal games. The bright lights don't get any brighter than what he played under...And the Texans have familiarity with Patriots. Played there twice counting the playoffs. Deshaun Watson saw them in preseason and saw them. Saw them in two preseason practices and he talked to Tom Brady.

"So it's not like they're going to go there and the Patriots are going be larger than life."

The challenge, in his estimation, will be tough to overcome and move the Texans to 2-1 on the season.

"Now, if the Patriots win, and of course we all expect them to, they are going to out-play the Texans," McClain said. "They have the better team. They've got a better offense. I don't think they have a better defense.

"They're going to do everything they can to confuse and create as much as chaos as possible for Deshaun Watson."

Former Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins made some waves early in camp by backing veteran Tom Savage, but he told reporters this week that Watson is a natural.

"He's confident. He's always smiling. He doesn't look nervous," Hopkins said, "even from his first snap. He looks like he belongs out there like he's been there before. Just how he was talking out there and joking and commanding things from us as wideouts and the offensive line."

As McClain referenced, the Texans not only played New England in the preseason (a 27-23 Houston win) and last postseason (a 34-16 New England win), but they also met last regular season at Foxborough (a 27-0 New England win) and practiced together during preseason camp.

During camp, Patriots All-Pro Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson shared some kind words for each other. Watson said it was a "blessing" to learn "from one of the best," while Brady said Watson "has a great future" and "all the ability."

New England's Belichick says Sunday doesn't come down to any one player, but how the teams line up.

"I mean this is not the first time we've ever played against a scrambling quarterback," Belichick said. "I mean, look, you have to defend the whole offense. You can't defend one guy or stop one guy on defense. You know the skills of those individuals and you take those into consideration. You have to also take into consideration the overall scheme and what they're doing and what your assignments are. In this case the different defenses and different calls that we have.

But Belichik is impressed with the rookie's game.

"(Watson is) very athletic, he throws the ball well, has got a good arm, has got a lot of poise," Belichick said.

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