2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots prepare for Texans, toughest foe of year

By HOWARD ULMAN - AP Sports Writer
    2012-12-05 17:52

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tom Brady walked into his weekly news conference and glanced at the unusually large media crowd.

``Packed house,'' he said with a smile. ``Big game.''

It's about time.

On Monday night, the New England Patriots face the Houston Texans, their toughest opponent in a season in which they've rolled over mediocre teams. They're 9-3 with seven wins against teams with losing records.

The Texans (11-1) are a different animal.

``They're a great football team,'' Brady said Wednesday, ``so any time you play the best, you want to see how you match up.''

The Patriots did rout the Indianapolis Colts 59-24 on Nov. 18. And the Colts are 8-4 with a chance to gain a wild-card berth, although they must play the Texans in two of their last three games. The Patriots also beat the Denver Broncos (9-3) in the fifth game of the year, 31-21.

But, overall, they're just 2-2 against teams with winning records.

So, this game is ultra-significant - a Monday night national audience, the top team in the AFC and a need to avoid falling three games out of the conference lead - to a franchise that takes pride in first-round byes and home games in the postseason.

``This is a big game for us, a game where we're able to make up some ground that we lost early in the season,'' linebacker Jerod Mayo said. ``It's hard to win any game in the NFL. I would be lying if I said we weren't pumped for the game. But, at the same time, we're approaching this like any other.''

They know it does no good to put pressure on themselves by attaching extra importance to the game.

``Every week is different in the game of football,'' safety Steve Gregory said. ``You see upsets, you see things like that. So, in order to win a football game in the NFL, you have to bring your `A' game every week.''

Buffalo and Miami are just 5-7, but were both competitive in their most recent games against the Patriots. New England held on for a 37-31 win over the Bills with a last-minute interception in the end zone by Devin McCourty Nov. 11. And last week, the Patriots squeezed past the Dolphins, 23-16, despite gaining their fewest yards of the season.

And don't forget: The Patriots even lost to Arizona, 20-18, in the season's second game. The scuffling Cardinals (4-8) have lost their last eight games.

But coach Bill Belichick doesn't worry much about an opponent's record. Even when it's 11-1.

``We know Houston is a good team,'' he said. ``Whatever their record is, if it was 12-0, 11-1, 9-3, whatever, we know they're a good team. It doesn't really matter what happened against some other team they might have played, whether they won or lost. It's how we match up against them this week and how we do against them.

``We play good players, good coaches, good teams every week. These guys, they've had a great season. I can see why their record is what it is.''

The Texans have a well-balanced offense with quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson. Defensive end J.J. Watt is second in the league with 15 1/2 sacks. At 6-feet-5, he has a knack for batting down passes, as well.

``Coach Belichick likes to bring guys with racquetball paddles and stick those up in the air,'' Brady said, as the Patriots prepare for Watt and Co. ``I'm sure there will be a whole bunch of those there this week, which doesn't always make me very happy, but that's probably a good way to prepare for it.''

Those paddles may not be all Belichick will bring out.

``Maybe brooms, get it a little longer,'' the coach said. ``(They) knock down a lot of balls. It's not just knocked-down balls, it's tipped balls for interceptions and everything else. They're a very disruptive front.

``They're tough to handle.''

If the Patriots can overcome that, and win, they'll be one game closer to becoming the AFC's top seed. They had that label last season as well, and landed in the Super Bowl.

``You always want to play against the best,'' cornerback Aqib Talib said. ``We get to play one of the best teams in the AFC, so I'm looking forward to it.''

---

NOTES: WR Donte' Stallworth, re-signed on Tuesday, participated in the team's walkthrough. ... RB Brandon Bolden is eligible to be activated this week after completing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Mike PounceyJul 23 12:33p

Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (hip) could miss the first eight weeks of the season because of the hip surgery he had this offseason, according to a source. He [ More ]

Evan RodriguezJul 23 12:23p

Buffalo Bills FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and TE Chris Gragg (cramps) were hospitalized because of complications from cramps and were getting hydrated, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Rodriguez [ More ]

Dustin HopkinsJul 23 12:20p

Buffalo Bills PK Dustin Hopkins will have to try to make the roster as a kickoff specialist, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

Vernon DavisJul 23 12:13p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis has reported to camp Wednesday, July 23, according to an Instagram post from 49ers S C.J. Spillman.

Jason BabinJul 23 12:03p

New York Jets signed DE Jason Babin (Jaguars) to a two-year contract, with the second year being a team option. He's expected to serve as a situational pass rusher.

Reggie WayneJul 23 11:13a

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (knee) said he has been medically cleared to practice. He's expected to be limited, though, especially in the near future.

Kraig UrbikJul 23 10:53a

Buffalo Bills OG Chris Hairston continued to receive first-team repetitions at right guard in the red zone drills Wednesday, July 23. OG Kraig Urbik struggled with first-team the previous day.

Jamaal CharlesJul 23 09:53a

Updating previous reports, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles will not report to training camp Wednesday, July 23, barring a major contract breakthrough.

Vick BallardJul 23 09:33a

Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard (knee) reported to camp and has passed his physical.

Rob GronkowskiJul 23 08:53a

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) has been cleared for contact and will not be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

Evan RodriguezJul 23 08:43a

Buffalo Bills TE Chris Gragg (cramps), FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and CB Brandon E. Smith (leg) were out of practice Wednesday, July 23. OT Seantrel Henderson (hip) returned to action.

Rashad JenningsJul 23 08:23a

New York Giants RBs Rashad Jennings, David Wilson and Andre Williams could be used in a three-man rotation this season to keep Jennings fresh.

Caleb McSurdyJul 23 02:53a

The St. Louis Rams waived four players Tuesday, July 22, as they cut loose OL Abasi Salimu, WR Diontae Spencer, LB Caleb McSurdy, and LB Tavarius Wilson.

Carl NicksJul 23 02:43a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey, G Carl Nicks and DE Da'Quan Bowers may be fighting for roster spots once training camp begins due to other competition for their [ More ]

Chris CulliverJul 23 01:13a

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver (knee) has been cleared to take part in practice when training camp opens this week. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament to [ More ]

Ben TateJul 23 01:13a

Cleveland Browns RBs Ben Tate and Terrance West will compete for the starting tailback job during training camp and the preseason, and it's a battle head coach Mike Pettine [ More ]

Joel BitonioJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OG Joel Bitonio (ankle) lined up with the first-team offense during organized team activities (OTAs), and he held the spot until he suffered a sprained ankle June [ More ]

Paul McQuistanJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OLs Garrett Gilkey, Paul McQuistan and Jason Pinkston are fighting for position in the pecking order at right guard, and one of them might even push OG [ More ]

Craig RobertsonJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns LBs Christian Kirksey and Craig Robertson will compete for an inside linebacker job during training camp, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Joe HadenJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns CBs Justin Gilbert and Buster Skrine will compete for the starting cornerback job opposite CB Joe Haden in training camp. 'We weren't going to hand Justin that [ More ]

Gary BarnidgeJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray will battle for the No. 2 tight end spot during training camp and the preseason.

Eli ManningJul 23 12:23a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) has shown no ill effects during camp from ankle surgery that sidelined him for earlier offseason activities.

Tom CoughlinJul 22 11:53p

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was not happy that several players were forced to leave practice with dehydration issues Tuesday, July 22. 'It pisses me off,' Coughlin [ More ]

Brandon LloydJul 22 11:23p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson is the frontrunner for the No. 3 WR job, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, but he added that neither Johnson nor WR [ More ]

Darren SprolesJul 22 11:13p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles' ability to win one-on-one matchups in space is what head coach Chip Kelly plans to exploit this season. Kelly said opposing defenses played a [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 11:03p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and WR Tori Gurley had miscommunications on three occasions Tuesday, July 22, resulting in two incomplete passes and an interception. Joe Buscaglia of WGR [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:53p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and QB Jeff Tuel are in an open competition for the backup quarterback job, head coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday, July 22.

Brian MoormanJul 22 10:43p

Buffalo Bills P Brian Moorman was more effective than P Jake Dombrowski on punts in terms of both average hang time and average distance Tuesday, July 22.

Titus YoungJul 22 09:53p

Updating a previous story, free-agent WR Titus Young (Lions) was charged with felony battery with serious bodily injury from an alleged July 8 incident inside a Los Angeles-area hospital. [ More ]

Ryan MathewsJul 22 09:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews' rookie contract will expire after the 2014 season, which means this could be his final year with the organization, in the opinion of [ More ]

Mario WilliamsJul 22 09:43p

Buffalo Bills DE Mario Williams, DT Marcell Dareus and DT Kyle D. Williams were all rotated out of the lineup at times during team drills Tuesday, July 22. LB [ More ]

Nigel BradhamJul 22 09:23p

Buffalo Bills LB Nigel Bradham was one of eight players to record sacks during team drills Tuesday, July 22. The team's pass rush has been consistent since camp began, [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group