This game has been on people’s radar since the 2012 NFL schedules were released, and with the two teams combining for a 20-4 record, it’s safe to say both have reached/exceeded expectations and have made this game a must-see.
Now, while the Patriots and Texans both carry a 6 game winning streak into Foxboro, they seem be trending different directions.
The Texans, despite their ability to keep winning, have not been doing it in the defensive fashion that they are accustomed to. Their defense that was so stingy in the first half of the year has suddenly become injury-plagued and vulnerable. Over the last 3 games the Texans have given up 1,128 yards through the air ALONE.
The encouraging part for the Texans over the last few weeks though, is they have proven they can win via a shootout. After their week 6 blowout loss at home to the Packers, many people began to wonder if this team wouldn’t be able to keep up in an offensive battle. While the last few weeks have shown that they certainly can against subpar opponents, the Texans might have to prove it yet again against the NFL’s #1 offense in almost every offensive category.
The Patriots boast not only the most explosive offense, points wise, they arguably offer the most balanced offense as well. Their aerial attack is ranked 5th in the league, while their ever-improving ground game is ranked 8th, combining for the most yards per game in the league.
Meanwhile, the Patriots defense has been playing much better as of late and has helped the Patriots put together the best turnover ratio in the league. However, the Patriots have only had to play one team (Colts) ranked over .500 in the last 6 weeks and have still given up the 5th most yards in the league overall.
The matchup that will be most enticing, obviously, will be between MVP candidates Tom Brady and J.J. Watt. Both have put up ridiculous numbers and have been arguably the best players on their respective sides of the ball. It will be interesting to see the cat and mouse game that goes on and how often Brady challenges the long arms of J.J. “Swat”, who leads the league in batted passes by a long shot.
The bottom line is: While both quarterbacks are probably licking their chops based on the way the two secondary’s have been playing, I believe both defenses will be more amped up than usual for this one, and it might (“might” being the key word) take a little while to turn into the shootout most of us expect.
In the end though, I think the Patriots being at home, giving them the ability to run their lighting fast “hurry up” offense, will give them the edge. Patriots win this possible AFC Championship match-up by a touchdown.
Follow Cole Stevenson on Twitter: @Cole_Stevenson