HOUSTON TEXANS (11-1)
at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-3)
Kickoff: Monday, 8:35 p.m. EDT
Line: New England -3.5, Total: 51
The top two offenses in the NFL square off in arguably the game of the year when 11-1 Houston visits 9-3 New England on Monday night in a matchup of two teams each riding six-game winning streaks.
The Patriots are 20-0 SU in the second half of the regular season since 2010, though their offense was finally slowed down in Miami last week (season-low 321 total yards). They’ll continue to be without TE Rob Gronkowski (broken forearm), their best offensive weapon. The Texans bounced back from a couple of sloppy wins to blow out the Titans in Tennessee last week. This will be their third straight road game; they’re 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS away from home this year. QB Matt Schaub is having one of the best stretches of his career, throwing for 350 YPG with 8 TD and 3 INT over the past three games. The Patriots’ pass defense has been susceptible all season, allowing 280 passing YPG (4th-most in NFL).
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Schaub is having a very strong season for Houston, throwing for 3,062 yards (255 YPG), 21 TD and 9 INT. Schaub has faced the Patriots twice in his career (2005 and 2010), throwing for 601 yards, 5 TD and just 1 INT. Schaub's great play of late has coincided with the excellent performance of WR Andre Johnson, who has 517 receiving yards over the past three games. Despite the consistency of the passing game, Houston leads the NFL in rushing attempts with 413 (34.4 per game). Arian Foster has 283 of those carries (23.6 per game), resulting in 1,102 yards (3.9 YPC), and a league-best 13 touchdowns. But he is coming off his second-lowest rushing output of the season at Tennessee, rushing for just 38 yards on 14 carries (2.7 YPC). Although New England struggles to defend the pass, it has been rock-solid in run defense, allowing just 101 YPG this year (9th in NFL). The Patriots are also a very aggressive defense, forcing at least two turnovers in 10 of 12 games this season (33 total). But Houston has taken care of the football on the road, committing just six turnovers in six games away from home.
Patriots QB Tom Brady has also been on fire during his team's six-game win streak, completing 64% of his passes for 1,692 yards (282 YPG), 15 TD and 1 INT. He's been sacked only six times during this stretch, but four of those came last week at Miami. Houston has an excellent pass rush (36 sacks, 3rd in NFL) led by the best defensive player in the league in J.J. Watt, who has 16.5 sacks, 15 passes defensed, 14 tackles for loss, 60 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Brady's receiving corps is a bit thin as TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm) and WR Julian Edelman (foot) are both out, while WR Wes Welker (ankle), WR Brandon Lloyd (knee) and TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle) are all listed on the injury report as questionable, but all three expect to start on Monday night. Welker and Hernandez combined for 20 catches and 200 yards in the 23-16 win in Miami last week. With cold and rainy weather in the forecast, New England will certainly try to run the football. The Pats have the second-most carries in the NFL (401), led by Stevan Ridley's 1,010 yards and 9 TD, including one in each of the past five games. Houston ranks second in the NFL in rushing defense (88 rush YPG), allowing just three 100-yard games all season. New England prides itself on ball protection, and the team has a total of just three giveaways during the six-game win streak. The Patriots are 10-1 SU in their past 11 Monday night games, winning by an average of more than 20 points per game.