Prior to their two-game slide, the New England Patriots (10-2) were able to quell their injury woes and rip off 10 straight victories. But New England and quarterback Tom Brady will have to go at least one more game without star receiver Julian Edelman when they face the Houston Texans (6-6) on “Sunday Night Football” at NRG Stadium.
Along with tight end Rob Gronkowski, Edelman actually returned to practice on Friday since breaking a bone in his left foot in Week 10, but Edelman is listed as out against the Texans while Gronkowski’s questionable to return from his knee injury.
The Patriots two-game skid, low-lighted by poor special teams play in last week’s 35-28 loss to Philadelphia, has correlated with a drop in the AFC playoff standings. After ruling atop the conference for the first 10 weeks of the season, New England’s slipped back to third behind Cincinnati and Denver, but it could once again claim the AFC East with a victory over Houston coupled with a loss by the New York Jets.
Gronkowski is one of eight Patriots listed as questionable on the team’s injury report, including his backup Scott Chandler (knee) and receiver Danny Amendola (knee). Most were limited in practice all week, with the exception of free safety Devin McCourty (shoulder), who was a full participant on Friday after he was limited in the first two sessions.
In the other corner, the Texans saw their four-game winning streak snapped in last week’s 30-21 road loss to Buffalo but they are still in the AFC North hunt and tied with Indianapolis for the division lead.
And unlike the Patriots, the Texans are mostly healthy heading into the game. Sixteen players made Houston’s injury report, including star receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) and defensive end J.J. Watt (groin, hand). However, every player is listed as probable.
Watt, who leads the NFL with 13.5 sacks, will be part of the game’s feature matchup against the Patriots offensive line. Even while dealing with injuries along the frontline, New England’s allowed quarterback Tom Brady to be sacked only 29 times through 12 games this season.
Betting Odds: New England -3.5
Over/Under: 45 points
Start Time: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Live Online: SNF All Access