Largely due to a week 14 blowout win over their divisional playoff opponents, the New England Patriots are heavily favored to beat the Houston Texans on Sunday. Because of that, and because of the fact that the Texans were embarrassed in week 14, the Texans have been living by the mantra "we owe them one" all week. Speaking at his press conference earlier today, Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork acknowledged this:
Yeah, we know that. They didn't play their best game. They know that and we know that. Come Sunday we are expecting their best. It's all or nothing from here on out and for us; we have to be able to execute. If we don't execute, we'll have troubles. First, it starts with their running game. It starts with [Arian] Foster - the more touches that he gets, in the passing game or on the ground, the better that team is. But I'm pretty sure they're sitting down there saying, ‘You know what? They played us in the regular season and things didn't go well.' We basically outplayed them and they feel that they are a better football team and they are a better football team. There's a reason that they're in the postseason and there's a reason that we're in the postseason. So I don't think anything from that game is going to play a huge factor. I think it will give them more momentum or give them more of an edge that they will want to come back up here and face us and try to beat us in Foxborough. So we can control what we can control, and that's going to practice and working hard and trying to fix little kinks and stuff. We had a good chance to get back to work last week. We had two days of good practices, working on things that we think can help us moving forward. But it's going to come down to execution - that's what it's going to boil down to. A bunch of guys making plays - who can make the most plays and who can execute well. That's what this game is going to boil down to.
The more and more I hear these Patriots talk, the more and more I think they know what's at stake. These aren't your 2010 Patriots. And they know that the result of the regular season game doesn't mean anything.