2. Recharged batteries — An ankle injury has basically sidelined pass-rusher Chandler Jones the last three games. Until that, the rookie looked to be slowing down a bit. The Patriots need their home run hitter on defense at his best, not a beaten down rookie gasping for the finish line. Hopefully, the time off has done him some good.
3. Another sawbuck — A dime, 10-spot, twin figures .... Wes Welker will need another 10-plus catch night to keep this offense clicking, especially on third down. Let this guy drive Wade Phillips and the Texans’ defense batty. Then, pay him $27 million for the next three years ($19 million guaranteed) because you need him here desperately.
Hector Longo’s prediction: Patriots 45, Texans 38 (Longo’s record: 8-4 straight up; 3-8-1 vs. the spread)
Analysis: The prospect of J.J. Watt and this Houston defense inflicting its will on the Patriots simply does not scare me this week, not here at Gillette Stadium anyway. Of course, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson? You’re talking cold sweats. The anguish that once circled this Patriots defense returns as it gets shredded to pieces. Fortunately, Tommy B takes the national spotlight to win one for little Vivian on her 5-day-old birthday.