Sunday, December 1, 2013

Week 13 picks: Patriots at Texans

Publisher Nick St. Denis, associate editor Dan Begnoche and senior contributor Sean Donovan pick the New England Patriots' AFC bout with the Houston Texans.

Sean's take:
This playoff matchup from a year ago has an entirely new feel after Houston's fall from fringe Super Bowl contention to contending for the top overall pick in next year's draft. Nevertheless, Bill Belichick will have his team prepared to play and play well as it looks to continue gaining ground on the Denver Broncos for homefield advantage in the playoffs. Tom Brady puts the Texans on the mat early and an aggressive defense led by Chandler Jones fuels a rout.
Prediction: Patriots 40, Texans 16

Nick's take:
The Patriots are really good. The Texans really aren’t. New England has preached all week about not looking past a struggling Houston squad, so a hangover from its come-from-behind overtime victory over the Broncos last week isn’t expected. Houston doesn’t give up a lot of yards, but it gives up a lot of points. The Patriots get back to finding some balance in the running game, but Brady’s work with his in-sync pass-catching arsenal rules the day.
Prediction: Patriots 30, Texans 14

Dan's take:
The Texans' offense is a shadow of what it was a year ago, while New England's offense is finally starting to look like a complete unit. Brady's weapons have been healthy and more importantly reliable the past few weeks, two areas where Houston's squad has struggled. Andre Johnson, the team's biggest offensive weapon, struggles against corner Aqib Talib, who's shut down his fair share of No. 1 receivers this year, and the running game sputters without star Adrian Foster. If New England's backs can just hold onto the ball for 60 minutes, Brady's offense should be able to overcome Houston's still powerful defense, which is allowing less than 200 yards through the air per game but has struggled to come up with turnovers.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Texans 13