- (Photo: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)
The Houston Texans will face off against the New England Patriots to complete this week's round of playoff games on Sunday afternoon. This match up will determine which of these teams will make it through to the championship game next Sunday.
The Texans and Patriots game is scheduled to start at 4.30 p.m. ET and can be watched online through free live stream (details below).
For New England this is a very familiar position; for three consecutive seasons now they have successfully claimed the first round playoff bye, to come face to face against a team they blew out in December.
In the 2010 postseason they fell to the New York Jets, who successfully reversed the result, however, in the 2011 postseason they did not make the same mistake against the Denver Broncos, and won through.
In this Sunday afternoon football game the Patriots face off against the Texans again - a team they took apart 42-14 in Week 14. That loss will still be fresh in the Texans players' minds, and they no doubt will be looking to take revenge today.
If New England are to overcome the Texans then they must give suitable cover for Tom Brady. In past playoff defeats the common theme was that opposition defenses were able to get to Brady. This happened when the Patriots lost out to the New York Giants, as well as in 2009 and 2010 when they were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets respectively.
Back in Week 14, J.J. Watt was unable to get sacks against Brady, even though to his credit he did knock him down three times and caused a fumble. But he will have to do even better today and get Brady on the back foot if the Texans are to reverse that embarrassing defeat from a few weeks back.
Since that loss against the Patriots Matt Schaub has seemingly lost confidence - only throwing one touchdown pass since. The Texans will need him to come back out of his shell today and put on a big game if Houston are to take down the Patriots on the road.
Schaub has gone 350 from 544 for 4,008 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. In comparison, Tom Brady has gone 401 from 637 for 4,827 yards and 34 touchdowns.
In the Patriots, the Texans have an opposition that ranked number 1 in the NFL in points scored per game (34.8) as well as yards per game (427.9). The Patriots successfully plundered opposition defenses on the pass and the rush, ranking 4th and 7th in those categories respectively.
What will worry the Texans a little is their late season slump in form, which saw them lose three of their last four regular season games. They did however manage to bounce back last week against Cincinnati, winning 19-13 to get themselves back on track.
However, the New England Patriots on the road is an altogether difference prospect.
The Texans vs Patriots is scheduled to start at 4.30 p.m. ET and can be watched online through free live stream by clicking here.