Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots Divisional Playoff Preview

Ralph Longo@https://twitter.com/RalphLongoAnalyst IIIJanuary 10, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 30:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates his touchdown with Aaron Hernandez in the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

On Sunday afternoon, the Houston Texans will take on the New England Patriots to see who will earn the right to move on to the AFC title game. This should be a good one, as both teams are very solid and are legitimate contenders to get to the Super Bowl. 

New England's team is made up of playoff veterans. They've got an experienced squad that knows what it's like to play at this point in the season. The Texans aren't that accustomed to making it this far, and have yet to advance past the divisional round in their franchise's history. 

That shouldn't come into play too much. What's going to matter is if the Houston Texans are able to stop Tom Brady and the juggernaut that is the Patriots offense. 

Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and the gang are sure to be firing on all cylinders, so it's going to be critical that the Texans set the tone early on and break up their offensive rhythm. These two teams played a month ago and New England quickly got out to a 14-point lead, en route to a blowout win. 

That can't happen on Sunday. 

It's absolutely critical that J.J. Watt and the defensive line of the Texans get to Brady early and often, putting pressure on him and making him think. If he's allowed to just sit back in the pocket and not worry about the pass rush, he'll pick the Texans apart like they did in their December matchup. 

And Matt Schaub and Arian Foster must be nearly perfect. Houston will need to control the clock and keep Brady on the sidelines if they want any chance to win this one. 

The Pats defense is a lot better than last year's version, which should be enough to get them through this game. All they need to do is hold the Texans reasonably in check, and Brady and the offense will take care of the rest. 

The Texans were good last week after a shaky end to the season. This week, they'll be back to their December form.

Houston is good, but the Patriots are better. 

Final Score: Patriots win, 34-24