New England Patriots (10-5) vs. Houston Texans (8-7)
Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
Kickoff Temperature: Dome
Line: Texans by 7
Trends: Patriots have won three in a row; Texans have won two straight.
Three most important things for the Texans on defense:
1. Play well early. It's unclear how long the Patriots starters will be in action for and the Texans need to get off to a solid start.
2. Pressure Brady. If Tom Brady plays, he won't be on the field long if Houston shows that they can pressure him.
3. No big plays down field. Houston needs to play fairly conservative in this one not to give up the big play.
Three most important things for the Texans on offense:
1. Maintain some balance. Arian Foster was very good a week ago running the football, and that opened things up even further for the passing game. Another great effort out of Foster will go a long way in securing the franchise's first winning season.
2. Get the ball to Andre. Johnson was just named to the Pro Bowl and he's been on a tear, especially early in games. Going up against a less than stellar secondary, Johnson should have his way.
3. Protect Matt. If things break right, the Texans could be preparing for a playoff game next week. They will need Matt Schaub at 100% to get that far.
What to look for:
1. Look for Andre Johnson to go over 100 with a score. Bill Belichick is great at taking away the opponents best weapon, but Johnson is simply too good to take away.
2. Look for the Texans running game to struggle. New England is in the top third of the league in rush defense, while Houston is 31st in running the football.
3. Look for Wes Welker to catch eight or more passes. He's nearly unstoppable in the slot, as he runs fantastic routes and catches everything thrown his way.
4. Look for the Patriots to run the ball a lot. It will keep Brady healthy.
5. Look for the Texans to win the game. New England won't be particularly motivated to win this one and the Texans have everything on the line.