The New England Patriots and the Houston Texans will square off on Monday Night Football with top playoff seeds in the AFC on the line. If the Patriots want to walk away with a victory, they'll have to shut-down these three players.
This is it: New England's biggest game of the season and it will be played on the NFL's biggest stage.
This Monday night we'll see two of the AFC's powerhouses square off as both look to better their chances for top playoff seeding.
For the New England Patriots, this is almost a must-win for them if they want to have any chance of receiving a playoff bye or if they want to have any shot at grabbing the top seed in the AFC—considering that the Houston Texans sit atop of the AFC with a two-game lead ahead of New England.
With that being said, if the Patriots want to gain a game of Houston, then they'll likely have to shut-down these three players.
1. J.J. Watt
In an era of the NFL that is so pass-friendly and is all about the offense, it is truly amazing to see a defensive player being considered as a candidate for the NFL's MVP.
As of right now, J.J. Watt is as good as it gets.
Watt currently has recorded 15.5 sacks while accumulating 60 tackles on the season. However, the most impressive thing about Watt is his ability to swat and break up passes at the line of scrimmage. Outside of cornerbacks, Watt leads in the NFL in pass deflections with 15.
If the Patriots want to have any chance of winning Monday's game, then their offensive line is going to have to keep Watt in check.
2. Arian Foster
Monday night New England's defense will have their hands full against the NFL's fifth leading rusher in Arian Foster.
Thus far in 2012, Foster has racked up 1,102 yards while averaging 91.8 yards per-game and scoring 13 rushing touchdowns. However, Foster's game doesn't end there—he is a very lethal receiver. Foster has recorded 30 receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns this season.
New England will likely get a heavy dose of Foster Monday night, and it will be critical to shutting him down in order to win the game.
3. Matt Schaub
You have to consider Matt Schaub as one of the candidates for MVP this season because he's been just so efficient and productive for Houston.
The team's franchise quarterback has thrown for 21 touchdowns compare to just nine interceptions while completing 64.4 percent of his passes and posting a 94.5 quarterback rating.
This is actually a big game for Schaub, as he's yet to play in the "big, high-pressure" stage as he wasn't able to take part in Houston's playoff run last season. With that being said, he has all the abilities to absolutely shred New England's secondary into pieces.