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Brandon Spikes' defense will be crucial against the Texans.
The Monday Night Football matchup between the Texans and Patriots has all the makings of a classic game. With both teams loaded with talent and great coaching staffs, this could very well be a preview of a future playoff game.
Last season, the Houston Texans finally stepped out of the Colts' shadow and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, finishing with a 10-6 record. The Texans then beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card before falling to the Ravens. They achieved all of this despite missing their three best players, Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, for the majority of the season.
While Williams has departed to Buffalo, Schaub and Johnson will be back and the Texans could possibly have a juggernaut of a team this season. Keep in mind they still have Arian Foster and Ben Tate on offense all to go with one of the best defenses in the league led by All-Pro Brian Cushing.
Both of these teams are expected to run away with their divisions, so home field advantage in the playoffs could be up for grabs for the winner of this game.
As for the game, I foresee trouble for the Patriots. Wade Phillips' defense is exactly the type of defense that Brady has struggled against over his career. The Texans excel at getting pressure on the quarterback with the trio of JJ Watt, Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin always in the backfield.
On defense, the Patriots will have their hands full trying to stop Houston's dominant run game. In Arian Foster, the Texans have one of the best, if not the best, running back in the game and throw in Ben Tate and Houston's excellent zone blocking scheme, Vince Wilfork and the boys on defense will have it step it up a notch. Brandon Spikes could be the key player for the Pats defense as his run defense against Foster and Tate will be crucial.
Not to be forgotten is Andre Johnson on the outside. The 6'3'' beast of a receiver will give McCourty and the Pats' secondary headaches all day unless the pass rush can get to Schaub.
Projected Final Score -
New England 17 - Houston 24