Been here. Done this.
The Patriots will finally play their first postseason game Saturday night and wouldn’t you guess . . . they are playing a team with absolutely zero chance to win the game.
Enjoying the spoils of their hard-earned top seed, the 14-2 Patriots will face your friends and mine, the All World Tomato Cans, the Houston Texans.
In a game that could be best described as the NFL’s answer to Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve Show, the Texans beat the quarterback-less Raiders, 27-14, Saturday to advance to the divisional round. New England’s dream matchup with fourth-seeded Houston became official Sunday when Pittsburgh routed the terrible Dolphins.
This could not have worked out better for the Patriots.
The Texans are the Chuck Wepner/Randall “Tex” Cobb/Peter McNeeley of NFL playoff teams. They are Tomato Cans Sui Generis; Tomato Cans Di Tutti, the Houston Warhols.
Prepare for the Pats vs. the Patsies. Jadeveon Clowney’s to the left of us, jokers to the right, the Texans are historically bad and easy for the Patriots to beat. And in keeping with the usual theme of Patriot luck, New England again will play a team that will be without its best player (J.J. Watt, back surgery).
Prefer facts over opinion? Try this: the Texans have never won a game in Foxborough. In their last four games at Gillette, they have lost by an aggregate score of 150-49. That’s right. Pats-Texans in Foxborough produces an average beatdown of 25-plus points. When the matchup was revealed, the Patriots opened as 16-point favorites. In a playoff game.
Remember four years ago? The Texans were 11-1 when they came to Foxborough wearing their lettermen jackets. Andre Johnson announced it was the biggest game in franchise history. Arian Foster changed his Twitter avatar to represent an opinion that disrespected the Texans. In that game, the Patriots jumped to a 28-0 lead (Houston was flagged for an illegal formation on its first play) and led, 35-7, early in the fourth. The final was 42-14. Five weeks later, the Texans returned and lost a totally noncompetitive (41-28) divisional playoff game at Gillette.
Fast forward to last September when the Patriots — playing without Tom Brady — trumped the Texans, 27-0. That was the night third-stringer Jacoby Brissett started at quarterback.
The Texans feature a historically bad offense. Houston scored only 25 offensive touchdowns this year, which is a record low for a playoff team in a 16-game season. They averaged 17.4 points per game, which ranked 28th in the NFL. Houston’s starting quarterback, Brock Osweiler, the $72 million man,
The Texans love shutouts more than Nolan Ryan. Last year they were bounced from the playoffs in a 30-0 wild-card whitewash against Kansas City. Houston coach Bill O’Brien has used eight quarterbacks since 2014. With its popgun offense, Houston is the only NFL team that didn’t score in the final two minutes of the first half of a regular-season game this season.
Houston’s defense looked formidable Saturday, but the Texans were playing against a kid quarterback who was making his first NFL start. Something tells me that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will do better than Jack Del Rio and Connor Cook.
This easy cheesy matchup is not the Patriots’ fault, but it promises to be a playoff bore much like the first three games of wild-card weekend. Pats-Texans could be a threat to the Bears’ 73-0 NFL championship game victory over the Redskins in 1940. Doubt we’ll see Roger Goodell in the Kraft box.
Houston’s staff and roster feature a lot of former Patriots and a respectful Belichick will spend the week trying to convince us that the Texans are the equal of the 1985 Bears. We’re going to be reading stories about Houston coach O’Brien’s Dorchester roots and his days at St. John’s Prep and Brown. Who could forget the time O’Brien (then Pats QB coach) and Brady got into a shouting match on the Patriot sideline after Tom threw a pick against the Redskins? We’ll read about Mike Vrabel (Houston linebackers coach), George Godsey (offensive coordinator), defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, and their good days in Foxborough. Houston’s defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel, won a bunch of rings with Belichick.
But this is going to be a noncompetitive beatdown of the highest order.
When Belichick tries to convince us otherwise and says, “We’re on to Houston,’’ I’ll be thinking about the Super Bowl at NRG Stadium Feb. 5, not the cream puffs who are coming to Gillette this weekend.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy.