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

Matt ForteNov 26 07:13p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte (knee) is officially active for the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers Thursday, Nov. 26.

Corey BrownNov 26 03:43p

Carolina Panthers WR Corey Brown (shoulder) has been declared inactive for the Week 12 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Corey BrownNov 26 03:33p

The Carolina Panthers have declared RB Brandon Wegher, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, CB Charles Tillman, WR Corey Brown, LS Danny Aiken, WR Kevin Norwood, DE Ryan Delaire inactive for Week 12.

Brice ButlerNov 26 03:33p

The Dallas Cowboys have declared WR Brice Butler, TE Geoff Swaim, LB Mark Nzeocha, CB Morris Claiborne, OG Ronald Leary, DE Ryan Russell, RB Trey Williams inactive for Week 12.

Timothy WrightNov 26 11:33a

The Detroit Lions have declared OT Corey Robinson, DL Gabe Wright, S Isaiah Johnson, DL Jermelle Cudjo, OT LaAdrian Waddle, WR T.J. Jones, TE Tim Wright inactive for Week 12.

Darrelle RevisNov 26 11:33a

New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis (concussion) wasn't spotted at practice Thursday, Nov. 26, and he's unlikely to play in Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins.

Calvin JohnsonNov 26 11:23a

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) is active Thursday, Nov. 26, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Matt BryantNov 26 11:13a

Updating previous reports, Atlanta Falcons PK Matt Bryant (quadriceps) injured his quadriceps in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Sam BradfordNov 26 11:13a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (concussion, shoulder) is inactive Thursday, Nov. 26.

Sam BradfordNov 26 11:13a

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared DL Brandon Bair, CB Denzel Rice, WR Jonathan Krause, RB Ryan Mathews, QB Sam Bradford, OT Tanner Hawkinson, TE Zach Ertz inactive for Week 12.

Peyton ManningNov 26 11:03a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (foot) will be out at least three weeks as his foot is in a cast for the next 10 days. He'll need at least [ More ]

Devonta FreemanNov 26 11:03a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) won't practice Thursday, Nov. 26, and the team is preparing to play without him in Week 12, according to head coach Dan Quinn.

Shayne GrahamNov 26 10:43a

Free-agent PK Shayne Graham (Saints) will sign with the Atlanta Falcons Thursday, Nov. 26, according to a source.

Mark SanchezNov 26 08:43a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez will start Thursday, Nov. 26, in place of QB Sam Bradford (concussion, shoulder).

Doug BaldwinNov 25 07:43p

Seattle Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Tyrod TaylorNov 25 07:23p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor (shoulder) said he will play in Week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Malcom FloydNov 25 06:53p

San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates (hip) and WR Malcom Floyd (shoulder) were limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Case KeenumNov 25 06:43p

St. Louis Rams QB Case Keenum (concussion) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Dexter McClusterNov 25 06:33p

Tennessee Titans RB Dexter McCluster (knee) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Kendall WrightNov 25 06:33p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Mark IngramNov 25 06:23p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram's (shoulder) injury isn't expected to be a major concern after resting last week during the bye. It's unclear, however, if his shoulder injury [ More ]

Andrew LuckNov 25 06:23p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (abdomen, kidney) is confident that he will play again this year, but a timetable for his return at this point is tough to gauge. [ More ]

Leonard HankersonNov 25 06:13p

Atlanta Falcons WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) is still bothered by a hamstring strain, and the Falcons may continue to take their time with his injury. Hankerson previously missed two [ More ]

A. Seferian-JenkinsNov 25 06:03p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Stedman BaileyNov 25 05:53p

St. Louis Rams WR Stedman Bailey (head) is out of surgery and will be in an intensive care unit for 3-5 days. Doctors are hopeful he will make a successful recovery.

Danny AmendolaNov 25 04:43p

New England Patriots WRs Julian Edelman (foot), Danny Amendola (knee) and Aaron Dobson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Glenn DorseyNov 25 04:33p

San Francisco 49ers DT Glenn Dorsey (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Nov. 25, after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 11.

Marshawn LynchNov 25 03:53p

Updating a previous report, Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (hernia) will return in three to four weeks after undergoing sports hernia surgery Wednesday, Nov. 25, but he could be [ More ]

Matt ForteNov 25 03:33p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte (knee) and WR Alshon Jeffery (groin, shoulder) are both listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers Thursday, Nov. 26.

John BrownNov 25 03:13p

Arizona Cardinals WR John Brown (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Martellus BennettNov 25 02:53p

Chicago Bears TE Martellus Bennett (ribs) has been ruled out for Week 12 Thursday, Nov. 26.

Michael FloydNov 25 02:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd (hamstring) is practicing Wednesday, Nov. 25.

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