Sunday, January 6, 2013

Patriots slated for higher-stakes rematch with Texans


The New England Patriots don't have to wait another day to find out who they'll play next weekend.

Thanks to a Houston Texans victory over the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday in AFC Wildcard action, New England will host Houston next Sunday in the Divisional Round.

The last time these two teams met, the nation was preparing for a possible AFC Championship game preview and a slugfest between the league's best offense against arguably the league's best defense. But a lot changed that Week 14 night.

The Patriots jumped out to a 28-point lead and won in blowout fashion 42-14. Despite an impressive showing from the Texans' best player, defensive end J.J. Watt, Tom Brady was nearly flawless while tossing four touchdowns. Meanwhile, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub stunk, throwing a interception while failing to score.

New England gained steam, and the eventual tiebreaker, en route to a first-round bye, while the Texans struggled down the stretch.

Considering the circumstances, there will be a lot of talk this week about 2010, when the Patriots hosted the New York Jets in the Divisional Round after blowing out Gang Green on Monday night just weeks before. New York when on to oust the Patriots in decisive fashion.

However, don't expect that this time around. The familiarity between the Jets and Patriots combined with an exceptional gameplan by Rex Ryan, plus lack of execution by New England, spelled doom for the Patriots in Foxborough. But this Texans team, believe it or not, isn't as good as the 2010 Jets, and New England won't get caught up in the emotions of the game like it probably did against its rival two years ago.

The Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts square off Sunday for a chance to take on the Denver Broncos in the other Divisional Round game of the AFC.

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