Houston Texans at New England Patriots
Monday, December 10, 2012, 8:40 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Gillette Stadium – Foxboro, Massachusetts
Opening Line: New England -4 1/2
Current Line: New England -4
Opening Total: 53
Current Total: 51
Opening Money Line: Patriots -175 / Texans +155
Current Money Line: Patriots -205 / Texans +175
The 11-1 Houston Texans have the best record in football since the Atlanta Falcons lost Sunday. The Texans travel to the 9-3 New England Patriots in a crucial AFC match-up Monday night. Both the Texans and Patriots are red hot having won 6 straight games.
Houston is coached by Gary Kubiak. The Texans lead the AFC South by 3 games over the Indianapolis Colts. The Texans have clinched a playoff spot but they play the Colts twice in the next 3 weeks so the division is still up for grabs, but Houston will clinch at least a tie with a win Monday against the Patriots. A win Monday would also give the Texans wins over the Patriots, Broncos, and Ravens this season, which would give them the tie breaker over all three teams The Texans won at Tennessee last week 24-10. Houston is 8-4 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season.
New England is coached by Bill Belichick. The Patriots clinched the AFC East title with their 23-16 win over Miami last week. New England is locked in a tight battle with Denver and Baltimore for the second seed in the AFC playoffs and the first round bye that comes with it. Denver won to improve to 10-3, while Baltimore lost to fall to 9-4. If the Patriots beat Houston, then New England would only be a game behind them for the #1 seed in the AFC. New England is 7-5 ATS and the total is 9-3 this season.
Houston and New England have only played 3 times since Houston joined the league in 2002. The Patriots lead the series 2-1, but the Texans won the last meeting 34-27 in 2010 in Houston.
Houston is averaging 389.6 yards per game on offense, including 247.1 passing yards and 142.5 rushing yards. The Texans are outscoring teams 29-18 this season. Houston is in the top 10 in all offensive categories, including #2 in scoring. The Texans are +14 in turnovers. Houston has forced 36 sacks and allowed 15 this season. The Texans are 72/177 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, Houston is allowing 322.6 yards per game, including 234.8 passing and 87.8 rushing yards. The Texans are in the top 6 in total defense, against the rush, and in points allowed. Houston has 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub has completed 64.4% of his passes for 3,062 yards with 21 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He has been sacked 15 times this season. Running back Arian Foster has 283 carries, 1,102 yards with 13 touchdowns, along with 30 catches, 137 yards and 2 touchdowns. Justin Forsett and Ben Tate will also get some carries. Receiver Andre Johnson has 74 carries, 1,114 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Owen Daniels has 50 catches, 598 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is probable with a back injury. Kevin Walter has 35 catches, 444 yards and 2 touchdowns. James Casey has 29 catches, 274 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Garrett Graham is out with a head injury. He has 25 catches, 243 yards and 3 touchdowns. Seven defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.
New England is averaging 426.2 yards per game on offense, including 285.5 passing and 140.8 rushing yards. The Patriots are outscoring teams 36-22 this season. New England is #1 in total offense and scoring, and in the top 8 in passing and rushing. The Patriots are +24 in turnovers. New England has forced 26 sacks and allowed 19 this season. The Patriots are 91/174 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, the Pats are allowing 381 yards per game, including 279.9 passing yards and 101.1 rushing yards. New England is #27 in total defense, #29 against the pass and #8 against the rush. The Patriots have 8 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.
Tom Brady has completed 64.8% of his passes with 25 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He has been sacked 19 times but has 3 rushing touchdowns. Brady has thrown a touchdown pass in 44 straight games. Running back Stevan Ridley has 225 carries, 1,010 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 6 catches for 51 yards. Brandon Bolden is eligible to return from a 4 game suspension, but Belichick hasn’t said if he will play or not. He has 234 yards and 2 touchdowns. Danny Woodhead has 57 carries, 211 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 26 catches, 272 yards and 2 touchdowns. Shane Vereen has 46 catches, 173 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns, and a receiving touchdown.
Receiver Wes Welker has 92 catches, 1,064 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Welker is questionable with an ankle injury. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is out indefinitely with a broken forearm. He has 53 catches, 748 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brandon Lloyd has 50 catches, 561 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lloyd is questionable with a knee injury. Tight end Aaron Hernandez is also questionable with an ankle injury. He has 27 catches, 276 yards and 2 touchdowns. Julian Edelman has 21 catches, 235 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 45 rushing yards. He also has a punt return for a touchdown. Edelman is out for the season with a foot injury. Woodhead is the only receiver with 21 or more catches who is healthy. Nineteen Pats are listed on the injury report including 6 defensive players and 5 offensive linemen.
Houston is the only NFL team that is undefeated on the road (6-0). The Texans are 6-0 ATS in road games against teams with winning home records, 9-1-1 against teams with winning records, 8-1 after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 10-2-1 after allowing less than 15 points, 4-1 in Week 14, 12-3-1 after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, 11-3-1 after a cover, 17-5-2 against AFC teams, 9-3 in road games, 16-6-2 overall, 13-5-1 after a straight up win, 11-5-2 after allowing 350 yards or more, 2-5 on fieldturf, and 0-4 in Monday games.
New England has won 12 straight December games, and has won 10 of their last 11 Monday night games. The Patriots are 4-0 ATS in Monday games, 4-1 after failing to cover, 2-5 at home, and 1-4 in December.
These are the two top scoring offenses in the league. Houston has a top 10 defense, but the secondary is decimated by injury. New England’s receiving corps is battling injuries of their own. Despite probable freezing rain or snow, I still see a lot of points scored in this game. Houston has proven they can win on the road, and I think they pull off the upset on the road.