The Patriots (9-3) will host the Houston Texans (11-1) on Monday Night football in a December showdown of the top teams in the AFC. Both teams bring six game winning streaks into Foxboro on Monday and Houston is the NFL's only remaining undefeated road team.
The Patriots enter their week 14 matchup looking strong over their last five games, winning each by an average of 23 points, but the injuries especially on the offensive side of the ball are beginning to pile up. Tom Brady lost another weapon this week as Julian Edelman was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury. He will join Rob Grownkowski on the sidelines, who is still nursing his broken forearm. Despite these losses, Brady continues to play at a high level. Houston's weakness is in their secondary. They have allowed 352 passing yards per game over the past three weeks. This bodes extremely well for New England, who's high powered offense has shown that it can make adjustments and put up points even without Gronkowski. Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker, who needs only eight catches to become the first player in NFL history to catch 100 balls in five separate seasons, will probably see a lot of targets again and the Patriots should have no trouble moving the ball through the air so long as Tom Brady stays on his feet and isn't under constant pressure.
In what is probably the most important matchup of the game , a banged up New England offensive line will have to contend with the monster Houston defensive front led by defensive player of the year contender J.J. Watt. Starters Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins, and Dan Connolly were all limited in practice this week. If they aren't healthy it could be a long night for Brady who will see Watt in his face all game. Vollmer played while not 100% last week and had one of his worst performances as a pro. Brady was sacked four times and was under pressure all game. Its no secret that to beat Tom Brady you need to put him under pressure and the Dolphins did just that, holding the NFL's best offense to only 23 points in a losing effort. Although they are getting healthier as Mankins and Connolly returned to practice this week, a performance similar to last week will likely have the Patriots staring up at the Texans in the standings for the remainder of the season.
On the other side of the ball Arian Foster is a stud and the Texans have the sixth best rushing offense in the NFL, however, New England comes in having allowed only one 100 yard rusher this entire season, Ray Rice in week three. Matt Schaub is a very good NFL quarterback and Andre Johnson is one of the best receivers in the league going against a New England secondary that, although improved since the addition of Aqib Talib, is still the weakness on this Patriots team.
Patriots 34 Texans 28 Apart from a big game from Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub struggles throwing the ball elsewhere in poor, wet weather conditions and doesn't have enough to keep pace with the high powered New England offense. The offensive line, for the most part, finds a way to keep Brady upright as Welker and Hernandez have huge games en route to victory.
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