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Are you ready for the bye-week? New England has already secured a playoff spot and there is no big difference between the three and four seed. With the Bengals probably doing the same, New England will most likely play just a little to avoid rust, then the Brian Hoyer show begins. This is all good news for the Houston Texans, who are fighting for their playoff lives.
They should be called the Houston Johnsons. That’s because Andre Johnson has been ridiculous all season. He is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL and his 1,504 receiving yards and almost two hundred yards over second place, that being Wes Welker. He makes Matt Schaub’s life easier and has been a major factor in Schaub leading the league with 4,467 passing yards. Their running game took a hit when starter Steve Slaton went down. The combination of Ryan Moats and Chris Brown has been alright, but Houston has not had a 100 yard rusher since Moats went for 126 in week 8.
The defense has found a gem with rookie linebacker Brian Cushing. He is currently fifth in the league with 128 tackles and leads a steady defense. Defensive ends Mario Williams and Antonio Smith are sack magnets and former Patriot Eugene Wilson patrols the secondary. The Texans also have a leader on the field in Bernard Pollard. Yes, that Bernard Pollard who, only one season ago, knocked Tom Brady out for a season. Do not expect Bill Belichick to let history repeat itself and save his star quarterback for the playoffs.
Normally, I write about five things New England has to do to win, however, with the week being a meaningless game, it really doesn’t matter. The important thing is to rest key players, but also to keep the defense going. The New England defense, which at one point was being criticized for doing everything wrong, has allowed a combined 27 points in the last three games. Allowing the defense to continue to build steam entering the playoffs could go a long way in making a Super Bowl push. See you in two weeks, when the games matter again, and until then, enjoy Brian Hoyer.
New England 13 – Houston 21 (They need the win and will overmatch the New England backups.)