The 10-2 New England Patriots travel to Houston to take on the 6-6 Texans in a game featuring a number of former Patriots players and coaches now on the opposing sideline. Aside from those connections, this is a game both teams will badly want. Houston is fighting for its playoff lives, while the Patriots have lost two straight and slipped from the top AFC seed all the way to third, which would mean no first-round bye.
The Patriots haven't lost three straight since 2002, but have certainly had their struggles in Houston, losing both the game and Wes Welker in Week 17 of 2009 and barely hanging on to beat a 2-10 Texans team by a score of 34-31 in '13. The Pats' offense struggled to move the ball last week against the Eagles without Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, and need to rediscover their magic.
It certainly won't be an easy task facing a talented Texans defense led by J.J. Watt and former Patriot Vince Wilfork. The Texans have won five of their last seven games, including their last three at home. Former Patriot Brian Hoyer has 18 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season with a 4-3 record overall. The Texans already knocked off the Bengals and a win over the Patriots would likely propel them to the playoffs.
New England at Houston
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET (Sunday)