Nobody can overstate the importance of quarterback Tom Brady, but the New England Patriots still manage to look great when he's not under center. Jimmy Garoppolo, filling in for Brady while he serves a suspension for his role in the DeflateGate scandal, looked fantastic in Weeks 1 and 2 and the Patriots looked like they wouldn't miss a beat.
But then he sustained a shoulder injury. Now, on a short week, the depth and brilliance of this Patriots team will be tested once again. Garoppolo is officially listed as doubtful, so rookie Jacoby Brissett is slated to make the start at quarterback against the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football, well before anybody expected him to need to play significant regular season action in his career.
You can watch Brissett lead the 2-0 Patriots against the 2-0 Texans live on the NFL Network and CBS beginning at 8:25 p.m. ET on Thursday. You can watch a live stream online via Twitter, beginning just before kickoff.
Garoppolo is dealing with a sprained AC joint and the hope is that he'll be able to play in Week 4 before Brady comes back in Week 5. For now, Brissett will take over, with wide receiver Julian Edelman acting as the emergency backup. Brady's replacement's replacement, Brissett played college ball at NC State, and was a third-round pick by the Patriots in this year's draft.
He completed 6 of 9 passes for 92 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in relief of Garoppolo in Week 2. His college career, between starting at NC State and spot playing at Florida, left him completing 59.5 percent of his passes for 5,723 yards with 46 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Brissett was considered a project quarterback coming into the NFL, but there are few coaches in the NFL better equipped to get a quarterback ready to play than Bill Belichick. The Patriots are probably the most well-managed organization in the NFL, and they wouldn't start Brissett if Belichick didn't think they could win with him under center.
The Texans will be going with Brock Osweiler, a quarterback they picked up on the free agent market, giving him a contract that drew a lot of criticism around the league. Osweiler hasn't quite lived up to his $72 million contract in two games, but he's played well enough to have the Texans sitting at 2-0 on the season and in first place in the AFC South.
In two games, Osweiler has completed 41 of 68 passes for 499 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He's had some help from starting running back Lamar Miller, who has put up 189 yards on the ground.
On defense, Houston hasn't allowed its opponents to get into the end zone much so far this season. The Texans allowed 14 points to the Chicago Bears and held the Kansas City Chiefs to 12 points. The Patriots, on the other hand, have scored 54 points in two games.
Houston has dealt with the Indianapolis Colts dominating the division for years, but they're out to an early lead in the standings and could be well ahead of the pack if they manage to earn a road victory over the Patriots on Thursday.
Below is all you need to know to watch Thursday's game.
How to Watch Texans vs. Patriots on Thursday
Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
TV: CBS, NFL Network
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson