FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady and the Julian Edelman-less New England Patriots offense passed one test last week.

Brady & Co. took advantage of a poor New Orleans Saints defense during Sunday’s 36-20 blowout win. So that box can be checked off.

But now come the real tests, starting Sunday with the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. The next three weeks – with games against the Texans, Panthers and Buccaneers – should provide a much better idea about the offense, and how it might fare in the long run.

After the first two weeks of the season, those defenses are the ranked No. 8, No. 3 and No. 1, respectively, in yardage allowed per game. Against the pass, Carolina is No. 2, Tampa Bay No. 3 and Houston No. 8.

In other words, those teams are a far cry from the Saints, who own the worst passing defense in the league.

As we saw last season during the AFC playoffs, the Texans were able to effectively neutralize Brady for much of that game by using man coverage on receivers and creating an effective pass rush up the middle.

They moved Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus off the edge to collapse the middle of the pocket.

Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel also will have quarterback destroyer J.J. Watt at his disposal this time. Watt missed all but three games last year following back surgery and was severely hampered in Houston’s Week 3 loss at Foxborough, his final game of the year.

Wherever they line up Sunday, Watt, Mercilus and Clowney must be accounted for on each play or it will be a long afternoon for Brady, who could be without Rob Gronkowski (groin injury, but he did put in a limited practice on Thursday).

But Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said tracking the Texans trio is the least of the team’s worries.

“They move around but I mean, they are who they are,” Belichick said. “It’s no big mystery. They’re good. Blocking them is a lot harder than finding them.”

Belichick said Vrabel, the former Patriots linebacker, does a good job keeping offenses off balance. Last season it was Romeo Crennel pulling the strings in the Texans’ losses.

Whether rushing three, four or five, they’ll mix it up and try to make life miserable for Brady.

Said Belichick: “You’re never sure exactly which one of those things you’re going to get. When you start mixing them together, you don’t end up with the same thing repeatedly so it’s always something different. A different type of rush, a different type of coverage, maybe players aligned in different positions, even though it might be the same players but just different matchups. They create a lot of problems.”

Brady was 18 of 38 with two picks and two touchdown passes in the 34-16 playoff win last season.

His passer rating was 68.6. He was sacked twice and harassed constantly, and the Pats didn’t pull away until the fourth quarter.

He knows the Texans will be a much tougher test than the Saints. As will the Panthers, who have seven quarterback sacks already.

Brady, of course, is worried only about the present, so that means the Texans’ defensive front.

“All those guys on the field at the same time is a big problem for any offense,” Brady said. “You don’t want to be holding the ball too long because you know they’re going to get home at some point. I think that means we’ve got to really stay on track. We can’t have many negative plays. We’ve got to play a really consistent kind of football for the entire game.”

The Texans may be missing their two starting cornerbacks Sunday. Kevin Johnson isn’t expected to play due to a knee injury and veteran Johnathan Joseph was limited in practice thanks to a shoulder injury.

The Texans lost last year’s top corner, A.J. Bouye, in free agency over the offseason. So we’ll see if they can be as effective at shutting down the Patriots’ offense as they were during the 2016 postseason.

As we saw with the Chiefs in the Patriots’ Week 1 loss, if you can play man-to-man competently, you give yourself a chance to contain Brady and beat the Patriots. The Saints played man coverage but their corners aren’t nearly as good as what the Pats will see going forward.

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks said the key won’t necessarily be a quick strike offense against these strong pass-rush teams, but more about beating the defender on the play called.

“I wouldn’t say it’s about getting open as quick as possible,” Cooks said.

“It’s trusting Coach (Josh McDaniels) and the play-calling. It’s doing our job and focusing on winning our matchups. That’s critical. Not necessarily getting open quick.”

The Texans know how to stall the Patriots’ offense.

We’ll see if they can pull it off for four quarters this time.