The top-seeded Patriots will host the fourth-seeded Houston Texans in the divisional round at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.
The No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers made quick work of the No. 6 Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon to set up the New England-Houston rematch from Week 3 of the regular season.
The Texans held off the ailing Raiders in the wild-card round Saturday to advance. The Patriots are coming off their first-round bye week.
Kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. Saturday and the game will air on CBS.
Here is a closer look at the Texans:
How they got here: Houston beat Oakland, 27-14, in the wild card-round.
Coaching chops: Bill O’Brien, the former Patriots offensive coordinator, has the Texans in the postseason for the second straight season.
Previous meeting: The Patriots shut out the Texans, 27-0, in Week 3.
Postseason history: New England and Houston met in the 2012 divisional round in Foxborough. The Patriots won, 41-28.
Injury updates: Texans running back Lamar Miller came back from an ankle injury against Oakland after missing the final two games of the regular season. He rushed 31 times for 73 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Strong safety Quintin Demps suffered a hamstring injury against Oakland. He led all safeties in the regular season with six interceptions.
The players you’ve heard a lot about: Quarterback Brock Osweiler and outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney.
■ As The Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson noted, Osweiler seemed to play with a different demeanor in his first playoff game and win. Yes, he lost his starting job to Tom Savage and regained it only when Savage suffered a concussion. But, Wilson wrote, “Rather than playing hesitantly, as he’s done in the past much to fans’ consternation, Osweiler was more aggressive in his decisions. He played noticeably faster and more precisely.” Osweiler finished 14-of-25 passing for 168 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. He also posted a rushing touchdown and wasn’t sacked. Left tackle Duane Brown: “He had a lot of fun out there. He got us in the right plays, making some big-time throws, giving [DeAndre Hopkins] a chance on deep balls. A great job of executing all day. I would say he’s having a lot of fun. It’s great to see.”
■ Clowney batted down, bobbled, and eventually brought in his first-career interception against the Raiders. He also swatted away Oakland’s first pass attempt of the game and had four hurries in the game, though no sacks. He didn’t stuff the stat sheet, but as Pro Football Focus’s Sam Monson wrote, he affected the game in other ways. “At one point the Raiders gave up trying to block him one on one and actually dedicated a sixth offensive lineman to his side of the line of scrimmage, not just double-teaming him, but doing it with two offensive linemen, not a tackle and tight end.” In the regular season, he recorded a career-high six sacks, 62 tackles, and 16 tackles for loss. Though the Texans have been without J.J. Watt, the league’s No. 1 defense has performed well without him. “He just changes the game,” cornerback A.J. Bouye said of Clowney. “We miss J.J. [Watt], but he’s just that good of a presence. He shows you why he’s No. 1 overall.”
The players you’ve heard less about: Cornerback A.J. Bouye and linebacker Whitney Mercilus.
■ Against Oakland, Bouye allowed zero catches on seven targets, according to Pro Football Focus. He also tallied an interception to go along with four passes defended in the win. O’Brien called Bouye “one of the more improved players we’ve had.” Fellow corner Johnathan Joseph said he has seen Bouye handle the ebb and flow of an NFL season much better this year, in which the fourth-year man recorded 62 tackles (a career-high), one pick, and 16 passes defended in the regular season.
■ Mercilus benefited from the defense shutting down the Raiders’ run game — they totalled just 64 yards on 21 carries — as he recorded two sacks and seven tackles (three for loss) in the victory. It was Mercilus’s third career playoff game; in his last two, he recorded five total sacks, which is tied for the most by a defensive player in two consecutive playoff games since the league started charting the stat in 1982, according to Elias Sports Bureau. O’Brien called the Texans’ regular-season sack leader “a pleasure to coach.”
Make your reads:
■ Brock Osweiler flashed confidence and poise in redemptive a win over the Raiders.
■ For one day at least, Osweiler silences his critics.
■ Jadeveon Clowney’s playoff interception embodies his breakout season.
■ Clowney is becoming the player he was drafted to be.
■ DeAndre Hopkins had a resurgent performance in Texans’ win over Raiders.
■ Reasons for pessimism after the Texans’ win over the Raiders.
■ A.J. Bouye felt disrespected going into the Oakland game and then shut down Amari Cooper.
Follow Rachel G. Bowers on Twitter @RachelGBowers.