PATRIOTS (12-4) vs. TEXANS (13-4)
Today, 4:30 p.m., at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro
TV: Ch. 4 (Jim Nantz and Phil Simms)
Radio: 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos and Scott Zolak)
The series: Patriots lead 3-1 Overall. Last meeting: Patriots 42, Texans 14; at Gillette Stadium, Dec. 10, 2012 Latest line: Pats -9.5; Over/under total: 48.5
2012 STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
12-4 Record 13-4
1st, AFC East Standings 1st, AFC South
427.9 (1) Offense 372.1 (7)
136.5 (7) Rushing 132.7 (8)
291.4 (4) Passing 239.4 (11)
373.3 (25) Defense 323.3 (7)
101.9 (9) Rushing 97.5 (28)
271.4 (28) Passing 225.8 (16)
+25 Turnover margin +12
BY THE NUMBERS
82 — Rushing first downs for Stevan Ridley, tops in the AFC.
153 — Points for Stephen Gostkowski, tying him for first in the NFL in points scored.
5 — Interceptions for Devin McCourty, tying him for first in the AFC.
118 — Wes Welker’s reception total, which led the AFC.
0 — Percent of third-down conversions downs allowed by the Texans’ defense against Cincinnati last week. The Bengals were 0 for 9
6 — Pro Bowlers on the Houston offense: receiver Andre Johnson, halfback Arian Foster, quarterback Matt Schaub and linemen Duane Brown, Wade Smith and Chris Myers.
8 — Playoff games played by Danieal Manning, which leads the team. Tom Brady has 22 playoff starts for the Pats.
Keys to a New England victory
1. Foster a nose for the football — Rally to the football defensively, and take Arian Foster out of the game. If I’m the Pats, I want the football in Matt Schaub’s hands. That happens when you sell out to eliminate Foster.
2. Stay away from Jonathan Joseph — The Texans’ corner is a ball hawk. He can really changes things with a turnover/score. Just look the other way.
3. The good Ridley — We need the Stevan Ridley who won’t give up the football. Don’t crack the whip with Tom Brady till you need to. Let Ridley carry the load.
Hector Longo’s prediction: Patriots 39, Texans 21
Analysis: I said it earlier in the week, and I will say it again, the Texans can win this football game, but their coach won’t let it happen. Gary Kubiak’s game plans on both sides of the football will be too vanilla to win against a quality playoff team. Expect Houston to hang around for a while and lose with honor, but still lose.