When the Houston Texans (11-1) square off with the New England Patriots (9-3) on this week’s edition of Monday Night Football, the AFC battle will be the best matchup of Week 14.
These two teams are battling in what could be a potential AFC playoff matchup, and there is little doubt that the winner of this game will gain the mental advantage over their opponents.
With so much on the line in this battle for AFC supremacy, the Week 14 episode of Monday Night Football will be one of the best all season.
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
When: Monday, Dec. 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL.com
Texans Player to Watch: Andre Johnson, WR
While the Texans are predicated on the rushing attack (sixth in the league), they must also capitalize on their advantage in the passing attack and utilize the utility tool known as Andre Johnson.
The Patriots are 29th in the NFL against the pass—allowing 279.9 yards per game—and Matt Schaub and the Houston play-callers must take advantage by feeding the ball consistently to the strong receiver.
With 74 catches for 1114 yards so far this season, if the Texans want to prove they are the cream of the AFC crop, they must overwhelm New England with their passing attack.
Patriots Player to Watch: Tom Brady, QB
After coming down to earth last week and only throwing for one passing touchdown, the Patriots need star quarterback Tom Brady to return to elite form and pick apart was has been a susceptible secondary since the injury to star cornerback Johnathan Joseph.
While Joseph may be returning to the lineup Monday (h/t Nick Scurfield), New England knows that Houston’s 19th-ranked pass defense can be beaten—especially by speedier possession receivers.
If Brady can get the protection he is accustomed to behind the stellar Patriots offensive line, the star QB will throw for three touchdowns and lead his team to a convincing win against a tough AFC foe.
Prediction: New England 34, Houston 24
Despite the elite play of both teams so far in 2012, each of these teams has weaknesses. But it will be the more experienced Patriots that beat the Texans in glorious Monday night fashion.
After Brady returns to his normal elite form and the offensive gets going, there will be nothing Houston can do to keep New England out of the end zone.
As great as the Texans’ offense has been, they won’t outscore the Patriots.
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