FOXBOROUGH — Mindful of how the Patriots completely dominated the Texans during their regular-season meeting in Week 14, nose tackle Vince Wilfork said he fully expected to see a much more improved effort from the opposition when the Patriots host the Texans in an AFC Divisional Playoff game Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
The game will be a rematch of a regular-season meeting Dec. 10 at Gillette, where the Patriots, looking to earn a first-round bye, romped to a 42-14 victory over the Texans, who projected to be the AFC’s top-seeded team at the time. The loss sent the Texans on an end-of-season skid that saw them slip to the No. 3 seed and squander a chance for a first-round bye and home-field advantage.
“I mean, we know that we didn’t see their best the last time. They know that, and we know that,” Wilfork said Tuesday, speaking to reporters from a podium in the visitors’ locker room. “Come Sunday, we’re expecting their best. It’s all or nothing now from here on out.
“For us, we have to be able to execute and it starts with their running game,” Wilfork said. “If we don’t do that, we’re going to have troubles.”
In the first game, the Texans had 323 yards total offense, including 100 rushing. Arian Foster, the Texans’ featured back, was limited to 46 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries, including a long gain of 15 yards.
“It starts with Foster,” Wilfork said. “The more touches he gets, in the passing game or on the ground, the better their team is. I’m pretty sure they’re sitting down there [in Houston] going, ‘You know what? We’re a better football team.’ During the regular season, things didn’t go well and we basically outplayed them.
“They feel they’re a better football team and they are a better football team,” Wilfork said. “There’s a reason they’re in the postseason, there’s a reason we’re in the postseason. So I don’t think anything from that game is going to play a huge factor. I think it’s going to give them more of an edge to want to come back up here and try to play better.”