While both of these teams already have a spot in the postseason secured, this game has serious ramifications. The Texans hold a two-game lead over the Patriots for the top seed in the AFC. If the Pats are going to catch them, they would be well served to win this game.
They will do just that, and here is how it will play out.
Tom Brady Will Have a Huge Game
Houston's pass defense is excellent. The Texans are just 19th in passing yards allowed per game, but due to their being ahead for the majority of the season, they have faced an inordinate amount of passes.
Yards allowed per pass is a better indicator here, and the Texans check in at sixth in the NFL, having allowed just 6.1 yards per pass.
Still, let's not stop there. Take a look at the Texans' schedule and you aren't going to see many potent passing attacks.
The Texans allowed six touchdown passes to Aaron Rodgers and then 441 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions to Matt Stafford.
Brady will find plenty of holes in the pass defense and exploit it like he has so many others—especially on Monday night.
In his 16 starts on Monday Night Football, Brady is 12-4 with just over 276 passing yards per game and 37 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions. He will better those numbers in this game.
Prediction for Brady: 357 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions
Owen Daniels Will be a Fantasy Gem
Texans tight end Owen Daniels has some injury concerns, but they won't slow him down in this one. He is listed as probable on the official injury report and he has been practicing all week.
This is great news for the Texans because he will be a valuable weapon in this one.
Daniels is having a nice season and he's already set a career high with six touchdown catches. He will improve on that number.
The Patriots' pass defense has struggled this season. They are 29th in passing yards allowed and have given up 22 touchdowns through the air.
Now, take a look at where the Patriots defense ranks in Football Outsiders' defensive pass rankings. The Pats are in the top 10 against No. 1 and No. 2 receivers.
Expect Matt Schaub to be looking for Daniels, and expect him to find him open. The Pats are 30th against tight ends in FO's rankings and they are 29th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
Prediction for Daniels: 103 yards, 1 touchdown
Given the above on Brady, it should be pretty clear that the Pats are going to score some points.
Combine that with the Patriots' solid run defense (ninth in yards allowed and eighth in yards allowed per rush), and the Texans will be forced to try to keep up in the air.
They simply don't have the horses to beat New England in an aerial battle, especially while playing in Foxboro.
Game Prediction: Patriots 27, Texans 20