When the schedules first came out back in April, this was one that you probably circled as a key game for the Patriots. It was expected that the two week stretch of Denver and Houston was expected to be the major test for the Patriots, but as it turned out, that two game stretch came a week early, against Carolina and then Denver.
The Texans, to put it simply, aren't the team that people expected them to be heading into this season. They have lost nine straight games, including a loss to the terrible Jaguars just last week.
Nonetheless, this isn't a team to take for granted.
The Patriots are in the drivers seat for a first round bye at 8-3, but this game has "trap" written all over it. The Patriots had an extra day off following the bye and a climatic win. The Texans have virtually nothing to lose at this point. And believe it or not, the 2-9 Texans are still quite talented.
On offense, they have a unheralded running back playing for his next contract in Ben Tate. They have a fearless young quarterback playing for a chance to be the quarterback of the future in Case Keenum. And they have a dynamic one-two punch at wide receiver with the veteran Andre Johnson and the rookie DeAndre Hopkins. Defensively, there are still a lot of familiar faces there, and it starts with JJ Watt, who is in the midst of another All-Pro caliber campaign.
There's no doubt about it, this Texans team is still pretty talented. And they're tired of losing.
The Patriots are certainly the better team in 2013, but that doesn't mean they'll win this game. They'll need to stay focused as December football officially begins.
Details for the game below:
Game Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
TV Schedule: CBS, regional audience (TV Maps here)
Texans Coverage: Battle Red Blog
Streaming: After the game, via NFL Game Rewind