The Patriots’ path to the Super Bowl may eventually go through Houston, but on Monday night, Tom Brady & Co. have home-field advantage when the two top teams in the AFC square off at Gillette Stadium.
The teams are meeting for the first time since the 2009 regular-season finale when Wes Welker tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the Patriots’ 34-27 loss in Houston.
In this week’s preview video above, the Globe’s Shalise Manza Young gives us her keys to the Week 14 showdown and looks into how the Patriots match up with the Texans on both sides of the ball.
New England is an NFL-best 42-5 in December since the 2001 season and is 20-0 in the second half of the season since 2010. The Patriots have won 19 consecutive games at Gillette in December.
The 11-1 Texans are the only undefeated road team this season (6-0), and an NFL-best 5-0 in one-score games, including a pair of overtime wins in November, most notably the dramatic comeback in Detroit on Thanksgiving.
New England is 21-22 all time on “Monday Night Football”, but 14-5 under coach Bill Belichick.
Brady and Belichick talk about using everything in their arsenal at practice to get ready for big-and-tall defensive end J.J. Watt and his linemates. Watt has an AFC-best 15.5 sacks and is adept at batting balls down and forcing interceptions.
Texans running back Arian Foster has a league-leading 15 touchdowns to go with 1,102 rushing yards. Foster has always been dangerous in primetime outings, running for more than 100 yards in eight of his nine nationally televised games. His consistency on the ground has propelled Houston to a league-leading time of possession average at 34 minutes 9 seconds.
Patriots defenders Jerod Mayo and Aqib Talib also weigh in on stopping the high-flying Texans offense. And we hear from wide receiver Donte Stallworth on his return to the Patriots.