Tom Brady will look to add to his three Super Bowl rings this postseason. Image courtesy of boston.com
Just over a month ago, the Houston Texans headed to Massachusetts looking to wrap up the number one seeding in the AFC for the playoffs. They left Gillette Stadium with their tails between their legs, though, as New England showed who was boss at the back end of the season, running away with a 42-14 win.
The Texans return to the scene of that nightmare having lost three of their last four regular season games. They’re here by virtue of their scrappy 19-13 win over the Bengals in last weekend’s Wild Card contest. In the meantime, the Patriots have been resting up at home after snaring a first round bye.
Looking strictly at the quarterbacks, this contest would be over before it begins. Tom Brady threw for nearly 5,000 yards this year along with 34 touchdowns, has 16 playoff wins, three Super Bowl rings and has made a further two visits to the biggest game on the planet. On the other hand, Houston’s Matt Schaub has a solitary playoff start to his credit, and has thrown just one TD pass in his last five games.
As much as his numbers aren’t overwhelming, Schaub does have two of the best offensive weapons in the league at his disposal. Andre Johnson surpassed 10,000 receiving yards over his career this season, and he was second only to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson in 2012 averaging a smidge under 100 yards per game. The ground game is led by Arian Foster who banged away for a league-leading 15 rushing touchdowns this season. He got through a huge workload against Cinci carrying the ball 32 times for 140 yards, while also tallying eight catches. The Patriots kept him to just 46 yards on 15 carries earlier this season, but if the Texans’ offensive line can open things up, then Foster could help keep Brady off the field for as long as possible. Schaub can also go to tight end Owen Daniels who caught nine passes against the Bengals last week.
One tight end who will be itching to get on the park on Monday (AEDT) is Pats big man Rob Gronkowski. He missed the Week 14 clash with a broken arm, but his combination with Aaron Hernandez will be a tough match-up for Houston. Hernandez scored a brace of TDs in the teams’ December clash and that one-two punch will give Brady plenty of options along with the likes of wide out Wes Welker . The Texans’ best hope will be if defensive dynamo J.J. Watt – who had 20.5 sacks and an amazing 16 passes defended this season – can get after Brady.
The Pats have won three of the four meetings between the sides, although Houston did win at Foxboro at the end of the 2009 season in a match which had little bearing due to New England already having wrapped up the AFC East at that point.
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