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

Arian FosterOct 6 07:52p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited in practice Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Latavius MurrayOct 6 03:32p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray still has the confidence of head coach Jack Del Rio, despite a rough outing in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears. Murray accounted for [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 6 03:22p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) does not have a partial shoulder subluxation, as had been reported previously, according to a source. Head coach Chuck Pagano said he heard [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsOct 6 02:13p

Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley said WR Sammy Watkins (calf) will play in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans 'fingers crossed.'

Dan HerronOct 6 02:13p

Free-agent RB Dan Herron (Colts) was signed by the Buffalo Bills Tuesday, Oct. 6. TE MarQueis Gray (forearm) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Daniel FellsOct 6 01:52p

New York Giants TE Daniel Fells (ankle) had surgery this week on his ankle and was diagnosed with MRSA, which is a very serious condition.

Roddy WhiteOct 6 01:42p

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White could be open to a trade due to a declining role with the Falcons.

Devin HesterOct 6 01:32p

Atlanta Falcons WR Devin Hester (toe) was placed on the short-term Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Fred JacksonOct 6 01:22p

Seattle Seahawks RB Fred Jackson (ankle) is dealing with a high ankle sprain, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Eric EbronOct 6 12:32p

Updating an earlier report, Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron (knee) had an MRI reveal no structural damage in his left knee. His status is to be determined for Week 5.

Markus WheatonOct 6 12:22p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Markus Wheaton (ankle) looks dramatically improved from his ankle injury and has a good chance to play in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers.

Eric EbronOct 6 11:52a

Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron (knee) had X-rays on his left knee, which were negative. He'll have an MRI as well.

Connor BarthOct 6 10:43a

Free-agent PK Connor Barth (Buccaneers) has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, Oct. 6, as he beat out other kickers to replace PK Kyle Brindza. Brindza was released.

Caleb SturgisOct 6 10:22a

Philadelphia Eagles PK Caleb Sturgis won't be replaced after missing a field goal and an extra point in Week 4, according to head coach Chip Kelly. 'We're going to [ More ]

Steve SmithOct 6 09:52a

Baltimore Ravens WR Steve Smith (back) is day to day and hasn't been ruled out for Week 5, according to WR Kamar Aiken.

Karlos WilliamsOct 6 09:02a

Buffalo Bills RB Karlos Williams (concussion) sustained a concussion in Week 4, and his status is uncertain against the Tennessee Titans in Week 5.

Zach HockerOct 6 08:33a

New Orleans Saints PK Zach Hocker could be in danger of losing his job as the Saints are trying out kickers Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Russell WilsonOct 6 01:22a

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson completed 20 of his 26 pass attempts for 287 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in the Week 4 game against the Detroit Lions [ More ]

Thomas RawlsOct 6 01:22a

Seattle Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls saw a lion's share of the carries against the Detroit Lions in Week 4 Monday, Oct. 5, running for 48 yards on 17 carries [ More ]

Matthew StaffordOct 6 12:42a

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford completed 24 of his 35 pass attempts for 203 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in the Week 4 game Monday, Oct. 5, against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ameer AbdullahOct 6 12:42a

Detroit Lions RB Ameer Abdullah carried 13 times for just 33 yards in the Week 4 game against the Seattle Seahawks Monday, Oct. 5, and he added two receptions [ More ]

Calvin JohnsonOct 6 12:42a

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson had seven receptions for 56 yards in the Week 4 game against the Seattle Seahawks, but he was also credited with a lost fumble [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 5 09:22p

Updating a previous report, Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) could be on target to play in the Week 5 game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Oct. 8, as [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 5 07:52p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) is 'trending in the right direction' to return against the Houston Texans in Week 5 Thursday, Oct. 8, after taking part in the [ More ]

Marshawn LynchOct 5 07:32p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) was able to run during pregame warmups Monday, Oct. 5, and appears to have a good chance to play in the Week 5 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Alec OgletreeOct 5 07:02p

Updating a previous report, St. Louis Rams LB Alec Ogletree (ankle) suffered a fracture ankle during the team's Week 4 game. He is scheduled to undergo surgery and may [ More ]

Sean LeeOct 5 06:42p

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee (concussion) is feeling better but will have to pass all of his concussion tests before he is cleared to play again, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

Lance DunbarOct 5 06:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar (knee) will miss the rest of the 2015 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in Week 4. He scheduled [ More ]

Ronnie BrownOct 5 05:32p

Free-agent RB Ronnie Brown (Chargers) re-signed with the San Diego Chargers Monday, Oct. 5, according to a source. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Andrew LuckOct 5 05:12p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) is expected to play in the Week 5 game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Oct. 8. Luck has a slightly separated throwing shoulder [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsOct 5 04:42p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins' (calf) status for the Week 5 game against the Tennessee Titans is uncertain at this point, according to head coach Rex Ryan. 'He looked [ More ]

Jordan ReedOct 5 04:42p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed's (concussion, knee, ankle) head injury is a real concern, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Reed has a long history of head injuries dating [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
Player Notes:
Forum Posts:

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group