TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots At Houston Texans

New England Patriots
Houston Texans
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner The Patriots staged a memorable comeback in beating the Broncos 34-31 in overtime in Week 12. Tom Brady kept his cool despite three New England fumbles on the first three possessions. While the Patriots had little offensive rhythm in the first half of the season, Brady has gotten it back in the last few weeks. Much of that is due to the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski.
It’s been a disaster for the Texans this season and many of their closest observers point to last year’s 42-10 destruction in Week 14 at New England as the source of their poor play. Case Keenum has thrown the ball fairly well in relief of the beleaguered Matt Schaub, but he has not been able to lead the Texans to a win and it’s doubtful he will do it here.
Offense
Winner The Patriots want to run the ball in order to take pressure off of Brady and their defense, but it may not be Stevan Ridley in this game because he had an egregious fumble that was returned 60 yards for a touchdown. Look for Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen to get the call running the ball. Gronkowski is a big-time playmaker, while Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola know how to get open.
The Texans have a solid offense from a statistical point of view as they rank 10th overall in yards per game. Running back Ben Tate is a gutsy runner who is playing with broken ribs. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is a huge target who wins the battle against most defensive backs. The Texans could get a lift if Owen Daniels (leg) can return from his injury and contribute.
Defense
The Patriots have been hurt this year by injuries to Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, but this unit continues to battle. They are vulnerable against the run – Knowshon Moreno ripped them apart in Week 12 – but cornerback Aqib Talib is an outstanding cover man who can handle big receivers. Defensive end Chandler Jones has 10.5 sacks and 61 tackles.
Winner The Texans have an exceptional statistical ranking, but even though they are first in fewest yards per game, it’s not a season where they can hold their heads up high. Defensive end J.J. Watt is a remarkable talent, and he has a team-high 56 tackles and 9.5 sacks. Here’s a telling stat: No Texan defensive player has more than one interception.
Special Teams
Winner The Patriots took advantage of a special-teams miscue by the Broncos to win in overtime in their epic contest. Placekicker Stephen Gostkowski nailed the game-winning field goal and he is remarkably consistent in game-winning situations. Left-footed Ryan Allen is averaging 46.0 yards per punt.
Special teams have been a problem area for the Texans for several seasons. They struggle to contain their opponents on punt and kickoff returns, although Keshawn Martin has a punt return for a score. Randy Bullock is just 19-of-28 on his FG attempts.

The Winner Is

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Winner New England Patriots
3 out of 4

The Patriots have a chance to go after one of the top two seeds in the AFC after their win over the Broncos, so they can't afford a letdown against the struggling Texans.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to throw a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to pass in the second half against the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Conference Championship Tale: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots

    The Steelers and Patriots meet in Foxboro for the right to go to Super Bowl LI in Houston.

  2. ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the game at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Conference Championship Tale: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons

    Two MVP candidates at quarterback meet up in Atlanta for the right to go to Super Bowl LI in Houston.

  3. GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 8:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass in the second quarter during the NFC Wild Card game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field on January 8, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 26: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws against the Detroit Lions during the first half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
    Divisional Round Tale: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

    The Packers look to avenge a loss to the Cowboys in the regular season.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Connecticut

CT Business Spotlight
The Latest UConn News
Sign Up Today!

Listen Live