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PREVIEW: Houston Texans at the New England Patriots
New rivalry in the making?
In what could be a harbinger of things to come in the AFC, a heavyweight match-up looms this Monday Night, one rife with Playoff Implications. The 11-1 Texans pay a visit to the 9-3 New England Patriots in a Game that could all but lock up Home Field Advantage for the steady-as-she-goes Texans. The Patriots meanwhile appear to be rounding into Playoff Form at precisely the right time, running away from the rest of the AFC East Field as they typically do, yet wary of their inability at times to handle big, physical, blitz happy defenses like the Texans.
With relatively little history between these two blue chip franchises (the Pats lead the all time series 2-1) look for the Patriots to exploit a Texans Pass Defense that is suddenly very vulnerable, due in large part to key injuries in the secondary. The onus will be on New England's Offensive Line to protect Tom Brady from the likes of J.J. Watt and Company. They'll certainly look to mix in some runs to neutralize their aggressiveness but make no mistake, the Patriots' path to victory rests on the right arm of Tom Brady.
On the other side of the ball, look for the Texans to play their usual style of grind it out football, relying on Adrian Foster to make hay between the tackles and keeping Tom Brady on the sidelines with a baseball cap on his head. Matt Schaub is a Quarterback who is more than capable of making plays in the air in his own right, and with a mere 9 interceptions on the season, he is a signal caller who understands the importance of protecting the football. Turnovers in New England on Monday Night where the Pats are 10-1 over their last 11 MNF Contests would most surely guarantee the Texans their 2nd defeat of the season.
I expect this Texan Team to be heard from before this Season is over, but not this Monday Night. The Texans have had nightmares trying to contain upper echelon QBs this year (think Peyton Manning, Aaron Rogers and Matthew Stafford, all of whom have done damage to the Texans in the passing game) and given the Texans inability to steadily create turnovers against the Leagues best QBs, I expect New England to stay hot at home on Monday Night.,
Patriots 34 Texans 24