The Houston Texans and New England Patriots have been the best teams in the AFC in 2012.
Houston is in the midst of the best regular season in franchise history. At 11-1, they are in the lead for the top seed in the conference and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
New England’s 9-3 record has already guaranteed them the AFC East title. The Denver Broncos also have three losses, but the Patriots win against them in Week 5 gives them the tiebreaker for the second bye in the conference.
Now, the two teams are set to face off on Monday Night Football. The Patriots are scheduled to host the Texans at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. You can watch a free live stream online at espn3.com.
A win for the Texans would almost guarantee them the No.1 seed in the postseason. They would have to win just one of their final three games to clinch the top spot.
Despite Houston owning the best record in the NFL, New England enters the game as decided favorites. The consensus betting line at most Las Vegas sportsbooks has the Patriots giving the Texans 5.5 points.
It would be hard to find a team that is playing better than the Patriots. After starting 2012 at 3-3, they’ve been dominant over their last six games. New England’s victories during their current winning streak have come by an average of 20 points per game.
The Patriots have won by sporting the best offense in football. They’ve scored at a historic rate and have a chance to surpass the 2007 Patriots as the best offense since the NFL-AFL merger. New England is currently putting up 35.8 points per game, one point less the team that went undefeated in the regular season five years ago.
It’s been New England’s balanced offensive attack that has made them so successful. Usually a pass-dominant offense, the Patriots are eighth in the league in rushing. Led by Steven Ridley, the Patriots average over 140 yards per contest on the ground.
Tom Brady is having another MVP caliber season. Even with injuries to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski this year, he’s thrown 25 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Houston should have their top cornerback for the game. Jonathan Joseph says he’ll play after missing two games with a hamstring injury. The Texans will, however, be without Brice McCain in the secondary.
The Texans offense might not be as good as the Patriots, but it’s proven to be better than any other team’s in the league. Houston is scoring 29.3 points per game, and will look to take advantage of a weak New England pass defense. The Patriots are 29th in the NFL in yards allowed through the air, and quarterback Matt Schaub has thrown for an average of 350 yards over the past three games.
Prediction: In a game between the two-highest scoring teams in the NFL, this should be a very high-scoring affair. Between the Patriots poor pass defense and the Texans running game with Arian Foster, Houston shouldn’t have much trouble getting into the end zone. However, the Patriots have by far and away the better offense. The Texans have recently escaped in a few close games, and their luck will lucky run out against New England.
Predicted Score: New England 41, Houston 31