Lewis stars as Patriots advance

FOXBORO MA- SEPTEMBER 22 Benardrick Mc Kinney #55 of the Houston Texans attempts to tackle Malcolm Mitchell #19 of the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium

The Patriots are 13-6 in the divisional round of the playoffs.

The Patriots (14-2) beat the Texans 27-0 in Week 3 with third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett leading the way.

The Patriots will play the victor of Steelers-Chiefs, which is set to kick at 8:20 p.m. tonight.

The starter this time, of course, was Brady, who missed the first game with the Texans while serving a suspension related to the deflation of footballs here during the 2015 AFC championship game.

Dion Lewis. The 5-foot-8, 195-pound do-everything Patriots running back is what drives this team. The answer to that problem may not be found on tape, and I think Bill O'Brien and the Texans know it. In New England, Wilfork was the cornerstone of the Patriots front-seven.

Two conclusions can be drawn. He became the fifth player in Patriots postseason history to score three touchdowns in a game. Houston has the league's second best secondary which will be the key to stopping Brady, but on the opposing side New England has given up the least number of points and is third best at stopping the run. Seldom did their opponents even come within hailing distance.

A 30-yard pass interference penalty combined with a 22-yard connection to Chris Hogan put that Patriots at the Texans' 13-yard line and from there Lewis did the rest.

There was plenty of room for error.

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While Brady is set to make an NFL-record 32nd start in the postseason, Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler will be making just his 2nd appearance in the playoffs.

This wasn't a loss, obviously, but this still seems like a relevant stat: The Patriots have lost two games in a row only nine times since Belichick took over in 2000. He threw one touchdown in the game to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, but also threw three interceptions-all in the second half-and two in the fourth quarter while the game was still in striking distance for Houston. This may not be one of Belichick's better Patriots teams, but it is good enough to win a Super Bowl no matter how poorly it played in the divisional round. Because again, this was sloppy. It's not unlikely that we will see New England's run game impeded. The former Broncos quarterback came to life, completing 14-of-25 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for one in the team's 27-14 win over Oakland, ESPN reported.

Early in the fourth, though Clowney was called for roughing the passer for Brady after he got rid of the ball and while he was in the clutches of defensive end Christian Covington.

On another, receiver Julian Edelman clearly pushed off.

"His one touchdown, the swing-pass, kind of had a hop-skip, that's a drill we do that he hit me on in a tackling drill and I said, 'Oh you do the same move on me, '" Ryan laughed. We'd be talking a different outcome.

Might this be exactly what the Patriots needed?

Next week's AFC championship game will mark Belichick's 11th as Patriots coach.

And although this was also a double-digit win, it didn't feel that way. But the combination of a soft schedule, a soft division, and a soft first-round opponent might make the 2016 Houston Texans the luckiest team the league has ever seen-at least until Saturday, when they play the New England Patriots in MA.

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