Texans (13-4) at Patriots (12-4)
Houston’s reward for its wild-card win over Cincinnati is a return to trip to Foxborough, where the Texans’ late-season spiral began. Houston was in position for home-field advantage in the AFC before being routed 42-14 by the Patriots, then losing twice more in the final three games.
This is only the fourth postseason game in the Texans’ 11-season NFL history. The Patriots began winning Super Bowls with Tom Brady before the Texans were born.
Houston must bring the fierce pass rush it often has shown with end J.J. Watt, who led the NFL with 20 1-2 sacks.
‘‘Biggest goal of them all, Super Bowl, and this is a big step for us,’’ Watt said, ‘‘and we’re really excited about the challenge.’’
That challenge comes against the NFL’s most prolific offense. The Texans and Patriots allowed the same number of points, 331, but New England led NFL in scoring with 557 points, 34.8 per game.
Brady would surpass Joe Montana for most postseason victories by a quarterback by beating Houston. Brady is 16-6, although he began 10-0.
He isn’t looking for a repeat of the Dec. 10 romp.
‘‘Giving us an opportunity to have this game at home, I think that’s the important thing about last game,’’ Brady said. ‘‘Other than that, this is going to be a whole different game full of our own execution, our ability to try to beat a very good football team that’s played well all year.’’
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