Here’s the only stat you need to know about the Houston Texans: Since wearing their ridiculous varsity jackets to Gillette Stadium last December, the team is 4-13, including a playoff loss to New England, and a 2-9 start to the 2013 campaign.
If there ever were a prototypical fraud team in the NFL, well, there it is.
This week’s picks:
Zuri Berry, Boston.com: Patriots. “Plenty to like about the Patriots after their 34-31 overtime win over the Denver Broncos. Now going into Houston (2-9), the Patriots have only to worry about staying healthy on a somewhat questionable field.”
Globe staff: All New England (Patriots by 7 ˝).
John McClain, Houston Chronicle: Patriots 30, Texans 13.
Don Banks, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 34, Texans 17. “I wonder if the Texans will dare to wear those neato, whiz-bang varsity letterman jackets to the game against the Patriots, the ones they donned for last December's trip to New England? Probably not, since Houston lost that game 42-14, and then followed that up with a 41-28 loss in Foxboro in the AFC Divisional playoffs. Again, it bears pointing out that not much of anything good has happened to the Texans since those jackets were trotted out. Houston has lost 13 out of its past 17 games starting with that Week 14 game against the Pats. As for New England, the schedule is about to turn favorable, and 13-3 suddenly looks within reach. And did anyone in Pats-land notice I nailed the 34-31 final score of last week's OT thriller against the Broncos? It's a gift.”
ESPN.com staff: Patriots across the board.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.com: Patriots 34, Texans 20. “The Texans have lost nine straight and are reeling. The Patriots are coming off a tough victory against Denver. I think there will be some carryover from that, but after a slow start they will get it going. The Texans aren't very good right now. Hard to believe these two met in the playoffs last season. Blowout.”
CBS Sports.com staff: All Pats.
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 27, Texans 20. “Preseason, you circled this as a possible AFC title-game preview. Now it’s half of that. Pats have lived up, despite injuries. Texans have been a monumental disappointment. See this one close, though. Houston gets a bit of a lift from coach Gary Kubiak’s expected return to sideline after a health scare. More than that, English figure to be going through the motions after that emotional miracle-rally over Denver.”
USA Today staff: Pats, Pats, Pats.
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 42, Texans 13. “It was nearly a year ago that the Patriots brought the 11-1 Texans back to reality with a 42-14 drubbing in New England. Since then, the Texans are 4-13. The letterman jackets are in mothballs, and the coaching staff is about to get exterminated.”
Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 38, Texans 14. “New England beat Houston easily last year, when the Texans were good. The Patriots will surely beat the Texans easily now that they’re bad.”
Yahoo! sports staff: All Patriots.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 38, Texans 13. “The last team the reeling Texans want to see when they have lost nine straight games is the nemesis that is New England. The Patriots beat them up twice, 42-14 and 41-28 last season, and that was when Houston was a good playoff team. Now it’s a shell of that team in freefall. While the Texans won’t be dusting off those letterman jackets, Tom Brady will be big man on campus again.”
Shaughn Daniels: Suspiciously quiet.
It says here: Patriots 35, Texans 24. Andre Johnson can still be a game-changer for Texas, but unfortunately for Houston, he’s not a miracle-worker.