Back in Week 14, the Patriots destroyed the Texans 42-14 in New England on a Monday night. So even though both teams are 12-4, there's reason to think the Patriots could handle the Texans in their rematch this coming weekend.
Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy certainly doesn't think so: he fired up the old trolling machine and took a hunk out of the Texans, calling them "tomato cans," "fraudulent," "a layup" and "pure frauds," among other things. As you can guess, the Texans are probably not loving this. Arian Foster certainly isn't. He changed his Twitter avatar to the first three grafs of Shaughnessy's column on Monday:
The Patriots are nine-point favorites in their rematch with the Texans, so it's not like Shaughnessy is the only one who feels that New England will win handily.
But the column is -- no offense intended but probably provided, anyway -- pretty terrible. Shaughnessy brings up the inevitable comparisons to the 2010 Patriots, who blew out the Jets late in the regular season and then lost to them in the divisional round but dismisses them as "not the same."
"This is not the same. Those Jets were not afraid of the Patriots," he writes. "Those Jets had players and a coach who did not wet their pants at the sight of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Those Jets had attitude."
It's really just baseline trolling at its absolute finest. This is the sort of thing that my friend Andrew Sharp of SB Nation sits around wishing he could pull off every Tuesday.
But it's just not accurate. The Texans are a good, balanced team. They have one of the best running backs in football in Foster. They have an elite wideout in Andre Johnson. J.J. Watt isn't going to mess himself over any quarterback in the NFL. When healthy, Johnathan Joseph is one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL (and he looks healthier than he has in a while).
The Texans are officially in "no one believes in us" mode, and they're going to be playing with a very big chip on their shoulder. I think the Patriots will probably win this game -- no one should be deprived of a Brady-Peyton Manning AFC Championship Game -- but I also picked the Texans before the season to make the Super Bowl.
They're still capable of doing that, despite what everyone in Boston (outside of New England's locker room, anyway) believes. And it's pretty clear they're motivated to prove people like Shaughnessy wrong.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.