"We have to play good, sound, fundamental football," O'Brien said Monday, via the team's official site. "They're the type of team that if you make too many mistakes, they're going to bury you. So we have to do a good job -- not to be perfect -- but we have to limit our mistakes regardless of defense, offense or special teams."
As Tom Brady's former offensive coordinator, O'Brien is well aware of the hurdles in front of him as a game-planner, too.
"He's done it with different types of teams, different teammates," O'Brien said. "He's a great quarterback. So in preparation for him, it's very difficult. You have to make sure that, number one, that you do your job. That your players understand what their role in the game is and how they're supposed to perform on every single play."
Should the Texans somehow find a way to beat the Patriots in Foxborough, it would stand with little company as one of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history (not counting the Super Bowl). Perhaps the only playoff game in recent memory that equates would be the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars stunning the John Elway and Terrell Davis-led Broncos, 30-27, at Mile High Stadium.
In a lot of ways, this might work to O'Brien's advantage. Unlike a Raiders game they were supposed to win given that Oakland was on their third-string quarterback, this is the kind of game where O'Brien can throw caution to the wind. There were moments against the Raiders last week where Brock Osweiler seemed to be (somewhat) comfortable and loose. It was then that O'Brien dialed up some deep shots to DeAndre Hopkins and allowed the unit to function as it was originally designed. That expansion came only after some methodical drives where Osweiler leaned on his running game and intermediate passes to the tight ends.
The challenge is finding that comfortable window for Osweiler and extending it for 60 minutes. That is when the Texans are as close to perfect as they can be. That is how they have even a remote shot at beating the Patriots.