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(credit: Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

(credit: Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

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(AP) — With a two-game lead on the rest of the AFC, the Houston Texans could go a long way toward proving they’re the team to beat this week.

The New England Patriots, though, certainly aren’t ready to concede the conference they’ve represented in the Super Bowl five times in the last 11 years.

These powers each bring a six-game winning streak into Monday night’s showdown in Foxborough, where Houston will put its unblemished road record on the line against the AFC East champions.

The Texans (11-1) and Patriots (9-3) have met only three times before – once at New England, where Houston lost 40-7 in 2006 – but a new rivalry could be about to develop, with the chance of a more important matchup in the upcoming playoffs.

“You’ve got one of the all-time great leaders in football from a coaching standpoint and a quarterback standpoint,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. “You know you’re going to have to raise your level of play and play as good as you can possibly play. That’s why we do what we do. It is a big challenge, but I know our football team will be looking forward to it.”

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