Week 14: Houston Texans At New England Patriots

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gets set for a play. (credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gets set for a play. (credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
This is one of the most compelling games of the season and these teams seem likely to meet again in the postseason because they are likely the two best teams in the AFC. Matt Schaub will need to be on his game because the Pats are much better at defending the run than the pass. Schaub will need to exploit New England’s weak but improving pass defense.
Winner Tom Brady has seen everything in football and his experience usually gives him an advantage. However, the Texans’ defense can shut down any opponent. He will have to be razor sharp if he is going to come out on top in this battle. The Houston secondary is somewhat vulnerable (22nd vs. the pass), so Brady should have an opportunity if he can avoid the solid Houston pass rush.
The Patriots are much tougher against the run than the pass, but don’t expect the Texans to avoid giving the ball to running back Arian Foster. He is a dominant player and he will be challenged by Vince Wilfork. It’s doubtful the Patriots have anyone who can stay with Andre Johnson (74-1,114-3) or tight end Owen Daniel (50-598-6).
Winner The running attack has given the Patriots a dimension that they didn’t have a year ago. RB Stevan Ridley (1,010 yards and 9 touchdowns) runs with toughness and dependability. That makes life easier for Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd, who have all picked up the slack for the injured Rob Gronkowski (broken arm).
Winner The Texans have some holes in the secondary, but they can be covered up by the pass-rush ability and spectacular talent of defensive end J.J. Watt. Not only does Watt have 15.5 sacks through the first 12 games, he has also batted down 12 passes. Cornerback Kareem Jackson has four interceptions and 16 passes defensed.
The Pats have been tough to run against this year thanks to the presence of Wilfork in the middle and linebacker Jerod Mayo. However, they have been one of the most vulnerable teams against the pass. They have shown some improvement in recent weeks, but they will get tested by Schaub and the Texans. Former Buc Aqib Talib is talented but erratic.
Special Teams
The Texans have been sluggish on both punt and kickoff returns this season. Placekicker Shayne Graham has been decent this year, making 21-of-26 FG attempts this season. Donnie Jones is averaging a solid 46.7 yards per punt.
Winner The Pats have gotten a solid contribution on return teams from Julian Edelman and Devin McCourty who both have TD returns this season. Stephen Gostkowski is 24-of-30 on his field goal attempts this season and has missed some kicks he should have made. Punter Zoltan Mesko remains a solid weapon because he gets excellent height on his kicks.

The Winner Is

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gets set for a play. (credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Winner Patriots
3 out of 4

The Patriots have the edge because of homefield and their experience in big games. However, if Schaub can exploit the weakness in the New England secondary, the Texans could come away with a convincing road win.


  1. MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 9: Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans drops back to pass during the first quarter of the game on October 9, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos warms up before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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  2. SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 16:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks passes against the Atlanta Falcons at CenturyLink Field on October 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals looks to make a pass against the New York Jets in the first half of the NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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  3. FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots prepares to receive a snap during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback  Landry Jones #3 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass during warm ups before playing against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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