The Houston Texans (11-2) were not able to overcome their underdog status last week, falling in a fairly horrible fashion to the New England Patriots. While the game certainly did not go the way they would have wanted, do not read too much into the defeat.
The Texans would have preferred winning but knew that a loss to the Patriots in this situation had little effect. Meanwhile the chances of seeing them again in the post-season were high. As a result, they played a fairly straightforward game, adding few wrinkles or surprises into their play-calling.
After being hammered by the New England Patriots last Monday night, the Houston Texans suddenly find themselves in a tough race in the AFC South.
That's because the upstart Indianapolis Colts have surprised many by winning nine games. They have done it behind the brilliance of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and veteran wideout Reggie Wayne.
Here are the best matchups in this Sunday's critical divisional tilt.
Reggie Wayne vs. Jonathan Joseph
Undoubtedly the marquee matchup will involve receiver Reggie Wayne and cornerback Jonathan Joseph.
Wayne has been magnificent this season. The 34-year-old has played a key role in helping Luck's development.
He has hauled in 94 of the rookie's passes, many of them astonishing, highlight-reel catches. That's helped Wayne accumulate 1,220 yards and score four touchdowns.
As much as he has helped Luck, Wayne has also managed to create space for his youthful supporting cast. The likes of Donnie Avery, T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen have all benefited from the attention paid to Wayne.
This is a game I've been looking forward to for months. I've picked the Texans quite a bit this season. Despite being one of the best teams in the NFL, they continue to cover point spreads as a favorite. That mettle will be put to the test this week when they travel for a tough road game.
MarketsThe look-ahead line had the Patriots favored by -5. After the weekend they re-opened them at -4.5. Fast forward to today and we've seen somewhat of a surprising move on New England. Right now the line sits at -5.5 (odds from SBRforum).
The Houston Texans (11-1) face what is almost certainly their toughest challenge of the year. The Texans head to New England to face the 9-3 Patriots. The game is a matchup between one of the best defences and one of the best offenses in the league.
The New England Patriots do not rank in the top five in total passing or rushing but their combined numbers give them the number one total offense in the NFL. New England’s potency comes from all-pro quarterback, Tom Brady and emerging second-year running back, Stevan Ridley. Ridley has already gone over 1,000 yards and his emergence has given the Patriots their first real ground-threat since Corey Dillon. Brady, already arguably the best quarterback over the past few years, has only been helped by Ridley. Defences can no longer sell-out on the pass, giving Brady more time in the po9cket and potential gaps in coverage.
The Houston Texans (10-1) have struggled mightily the last two weeks, becoming the first team to go through two overtime games in the span of five days. However, they were able to come out with the win both times, although in fairly controversial circumstances against the Detroit Lions.
In both wins the Texans demonstrated that they are a well-rounded team capable of winning games in a number of different ways. However, a porous secondary and numerous injuries (which have contributed to the porous secondary) have raised red flags.