Three storylines to watch as the Pats and Texans tangle on Monday night for AFC supremacy:
Important for who?
All week it seems the talk has been the same: “This game is way more important for the Houston Texans than for the New England Patriots.”
Um… no. The Texans are currently No. 1 in the AFC by not one, but two games. They could lose to the Patriots on Monday night and still go into Week 15 as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Is it important for Houston as a franchise? Sure, it’s a big game. But it’s a bigger game right now for New England. With Denver winning Thursday, the pressure is on for New England to go back ahead of the Broncos for the No. 2 seed. If the Pats lose, they can basically kiss that first-round bye goodbye, and the doubt that they can beat the top notch teams in the NFL will return.
Big test for Patriots defense
It’s not breaking news to say the Patriots defense, specifically their secondary, is their weak spot. But aside from a blip against the Bills, the Patriots defense has looked pretty solid dating back to a 45-7 win over the Rams on Oct. 28. The problem, though, is that the encouraging efforts came against the Colts, Jets, and Dolphins – hardly NFL powerhouses. Houston poses a serious threat offensively, having only been held to under 21 points once – a 13-6 win over the Bears. Matt Schaub isn’t a top tier quarterback, but he’s proven to be able to get the job done. The Texans have receiving threats in Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels, and oh yeah, some guy named Arian Foster manning the backfield. It won’t be easy to keep them at bay.
Big day for Brady
Maybe it’ll be the birth of his daughter, Vivian, that turns Tom Brady super-human on Monday night. Maybe it’ll be the Texans’ average pass defense. Maybe it’s because the opposing team, once again, is getting all the hype. Or, maybe it’ll be the fact that Brady has put together an MVP-caliber season to date. Whatever the reason, expect Brady to have his absolute ‘A’ game on Monday night. The Patriots will most likely look to pass as much as possible, and while the Texans boast a serious pass rush, the Patriots’ offensive line should be up for the task.