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
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.