Patriots-Texans preview: What to watch for

Tom Brady Patriots
Tom Brady and the Patriots slammed the Texans in the 2012 regular season and postseason. Credit: Getty Images

Are the Patriots “for real,” yet?

Perhaps it took a 24-point comeback win over the top-seeded Broncos to turn some naysayers into believers. The Pats (8-3) are currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC, behind those same Broncos (9-2). But they hold the all-important tiebreaker against them should the two teams finish with the same record at the end of the season.

The Broncos don’t have the hardest remaining schedule, but they do travel to Kansas City this weekend in a divisional game that will surely be the toughest contest left on their schedule. Meanwhile, the Pats travel to Houston to play a Texans (2-9) team that has gone from a Super Bowl contender to a train wreck, having lost nine straight games.

There’s a chance the Pats are your No. 1 seed in the AFC by Sunday night.

Here are three things to look for in Houston on Sunday (1 p.m., CBS):

1. Get “Rid” of him?
Perhaps the biggest stain on the Patriots’ win over the Broncos was the fact that Stevan Ridley once again put the ball on the ground. It’s the third straight week Ridley has lost a fumble, and they are proving costly. His fumble against the Broncos was returned for a touchdown and immediately put the Pats in a hole.


It’s this simple: Ridley cannot and will not be trusted with the ball right now. With Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, and LeGarrette Blount (who also fumbled vs. Broncos) available, Ridley may have seen his last important snap for a while. The Pats won without him vs. Denver, and they can certainly beat the Texans without No. 22.

2. Don’t overlook the Texans
When the schedule came out, this looked like this was going to be a huge game. Now? Not so much. But that doesn’t mean the Patriots can take the Texans lightly. Six of Houston’s nine losses, including its last five, have been by seven points or less. The Texans still rank first overall in passing defense, allowing just 171.8 yards per game through the air. On the flip side, Case Keenum has taken over for Matt Schaub at quarterback, and while he’s certainly not perfect, he does seem to have a good thing going with wide receiver Andre Johnson.

3. Pats taking form
While most teams seem to be getting worse as the season goes, the Pats seem to be getting better. In the secondary, rookies Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon have stepped up when needed. The same goes for linebacker Dane Fletcher, who replaced an ineffective Dont’a Hightower in the second half against the Broncos. Offensively, the Pats have never looked stronger, with a full arsenal of weapons at Tom Brady’s disposal.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…