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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Texans players using heavy underdog status as motivation against Patriots

The Houston Texans opened as 16-point underdogs against the New England Patriots, and they consider that a motivating factor as they try to shock the world.

While coach Bill O’Brien declined to make much of the line, some Texans players were using it as a motivator in the week leading up to Saturday’s playoff tilt.

“[It] boosts us up a little bit,” defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said, via Sarah Barshop of ESPN. “‘OK, we’re going to show them.’ One of the mentalities this week going into this game is we’re the underdogs, always been underdogs all season, and let’s go out there and prove to them why we’re here in this second round now. So it’s time to go out here and compete.”

Cornerback A.J. Bouye said the line “fuels everybody.”

“It motivates you when you see it, and you just go harder and keep going harder,” Bouye said. “And at the end of the day, like Coach told us today, it’s going to get harder with each round, and we have the No. 1 seed this round and we have to be at our best.”

“It’s OK if we’re called the underdogs, I kind of like it,” added linebacker Whitney Mercilus. “Definitely get to shock a whole lot of people, so we’re looking forward to that.”

Only three other teams have been favored by 16 points in the last 40 years. You can understand why this is the case, though. The Patriots are the Patriots, and the Texans got here by beating an Oakland Raiders team that had to consider benching their third-string quarterback in a playoff game. That’s not to say Houston hasn’t earned the right to be here, but they’re clearly heavy underdogs for a reason.

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