The Houston Texans will invade Gillette Stadium on Monday night with a league best 11-1 record and a two-game lead for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Texans’ lone loss came via a blowout against the Green Bay Packers in October. Since then, Houston has ran the table and all but clinched the AFC South.
Houston has a dynamic offense and hard-nosed defense that forces any opponent to prepare for a multitude of talents on each side of the ball. Thus is the task for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots headed into Monday night’s matchup.
On offense, running back Arian Foster is a touchdown machine. He leads the NFL with 13 scores on the year, making Texans fans and fantasy owners alike smile. And for the third straight year, he’s surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. Entering Monday’s game against New England’s ninth-best rush defense, Foster has already rushed for 1,102 yards.
Speaking of offensive firepower, Andre Johnson‘s return from injury has him leading the charge in the Houston passing attack. Johnson has 74 receptions for 1,114 yards and three touchdowns on the season. As all Patriots fans know, the pass defense has been lackluster at best over the course of the season, but in their most recent games turnovers have helped improve one of the league’s worst pass defenses.
On the defensive side of the ball, Houston allows only 18 points-per-game, while holding opponents under 100 rushing yards. Their catalyst is defensive end J.J. Watt. In only his second year in the league, Watt has made a name for himself as one of the most disruptive defensive players in the NFL. He’s racked up 16.5 sacks on the season, and recovered two fumbles, along with countless pass deflections and quarterback hurries. The Patriots’ offensive line will need to contain the former Wisconsin Badger if they want to keep Tom Brady clean and allow him time to attack.
With all that being said, which Texans stud do the Patriots need to worry the most about? Is Foster’s explosiveness their biggest area of concern? Or does Johnson’s height and strength make him first on the need-to-stop list? But, does Watt’s ability to get to the quarterback worry you more than the other two?