Behind Enemy Lines: Preview Week 5 with Patriots Wire

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The Houston Texans take on the New England Patriots Sunday at 12:00 p.m. Central Time at NRG Stadium. Week 5 will feature a battle between 1-3 teams.

The Texans are overcoming a 40-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills, and receiver Brandin Cooks believes the leadership on the team driven by coach David Culley will help them get over it.

“He’s still coaching us hard, so, I think he’s doing a great job of that,” Cooks said. “When your head coach is still in it, you better be in it.”

To get ready for the game, Henry McKenna from the Patriots Wire helps preview the matchup.

1. How nice is it to prepare for, you know, a game and not a storyline with the game as a backdrop?

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

It’s all fun, honestly. Last week’s game (between the Patriots and Tom Brady’s Buccaneers) was a lot of fun to cover and experience. This week’s game probably will not be all that fun, with the Patriots looking like a below-average team and the Texans looking woefully below average. So sometimes, those leading storylines can make for an even better football game. And you might as well lean in.

2. How come Mac Jones hasn't lit the world on fire yet? One would figure he would given his coaching staff is A+++.

Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal-Imagn Content Services, LLC

Jones was not quite THAT level of prospect. He went at 15th overall because he’s not uniquely talented. He doesn’t have a big arm or a speedy 40-yard dash time. Jones is a prototypical pocket passer in an era of the NFL when people are wondering if that style of quarterback might turn into a dinosaur. Because Jones isn’t a freak athlete, the Patriots have to take it slowly with him, acclimating Jones to their offense and to the NFL speed. They’re not relying heavily upon Jones to win them games. They’ll let him check down and play point guard in a dink-and-dunk offense. When and if he develops into a downfield passer, they will build that into the playbook. For now, he’s limited — and unlikely to have much success as a deep-ball passer.

3. What happened that things went south between the Patriots and Stephon Gilmore?

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Gilmore has been angling for a new contract for two years. In 2020, he managed to get a raise. But it wasn’t TRULY a raise, because the Patriots took the money from 2021. So it was more like a cash advance, because the Patriots didn’t redo the deal this year. Gilmore suffered a quad injury at the end of 2020, and underwent surgery. He used that as a means to stay off the field in 2021. Even when he was reportedly healthy enough to play, he stayed on the PUP list. Rather than a holdout, the Patriots had a “hold-in” with Gilmore. So with Gilmore refusing to play and the Patriots refusing to rework his deal after an injury, they decided to go their separate ways.

4. What would have to happen for the Krafts to consider Bill O'Brien as Bill Belichick's successor?

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(AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

The apocalypse.

5. Who are some unheralded Patriots Houston fans should pay attention to?

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

On defense, cornerback Jalen Mills has been a really strong second option for the Patriots behind J.C. Jackson. Mills joined the Patriots after time with the Eagles, who had more success with him at safety. So it’s surely a pleasant surprise for Belichick to have converted Mills into a usable CB2, especially in the fallout of Gilmore’s situation. Offensively, Jakobi Meyers has been an interesting contributor. His stats aren’t flashy, but he’s been really solid in the solid, with sure hands. He also has three pass attempts this season — he was briefly a college QB. Yes, he’s basically the second coming of Julian Edelman.

What is your prediction?

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texans-100-facts-figures-patriots-snf-51-75

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots win, 10-3. New England’s defense is really good, and I could see the unit blanking Houston. As much as Belichick’s disciples have a tendency to pull off the upset, I don’t see it happening here. Jones will be careful with the football, even behind an offensive line that might be without four of its five starters. The Patriots win the turnover battle. New England wins in a game of ugly, cringey football

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