Patriots, Texans Meet for AFC Battle Royale Monday Night
Monday Night Football finally offers up a blockbuster matchup as the 9-3 New England Patriots and 11-1 Houston Texans square off in Foxboro with big AFC playoff stakes on the line (8:30 pm ET, ESPN).
Last week most NFL betting outlets opened this game with New England favored by five points, and as of Monday morning most books were listing the Patriots at -4.5.
To set this game up, Houston leads the AFC South by 2.5 games over second-place Indianapolis, has already clinched a spot in the playoffs and leads the AFC standings by a game and a half over Denver.
New England, meanwhile, has already clinched the AFC East title, and trails the Broncos by a half-game in the battle for the two seed in the upcoming AFC playoffs.
The Texans have lost one game this season; a home Sunday nighter vs. Green Bay back two months ago. Houston started this season with five straight wins, and rides a six game-winning streak into Monday night. Last week the Texans won at Tennessee 24-10.
The Patriots, meanwhile, opened 1-2 this season and a few weeks later after a loss at Seattle sat at 3-3. But since then New England has also won six straight, after beating the Dolphins in Miami last week 23-16.
By the numbers Houston has outgained opponents this season by a 390-323 YPG margin, and outrushed foes 143-88.
The Patriots have outgained opponents this season 426-381 and outrushed foes 141-101.
On the injury front New England will be without both Rob Gronkowski (arm) and Julian Edelman (foot), who are out for the season. On the other side of the ball Houston is banged up on defense, and might be without two starters in the secondary.
These teams last met on the last day of the regular season three years ago, Houston coming away with a 34-27 victory. But that game didn't mean all that much to the Patriots, who were already basically locked into their playoff positioning.