If it goes anything like their last meeting, they could be in for a long night on Sunday, January 13.
These two teams are headed in different directions, with the Texans losers of three of their final four regular season games (one of those to the Patriots) and the Patriots having locked up a first-round bye thanks in part to Houston's struggles.
That being said, they're not much different teams than they were in the last meeting.
Here's a quick statistical preview of the game.
Patriots offense vs. Texans defense
The bigger of the two battles will pit the Patriots offense against the Texans defense.
Last time around, Tom Brady hung a doozie on the Texans with four touchdowns and a 125.4 passer rating in a performance which (at the time) made him the lead man in the discussion for the 2012 NFL MVP.
The Patriots only rank outside the top 10 in two of the offensive categories listed here: Completion percentage and yards per rush attempt.
The Texans only rank outside the top 10 in four categories: Pass attempts against, passing yards against, passing touchdowns against and interceptions.
In the run-up to this game, there will be two areas of main focus: Pressure on the quarterback and production on third downs.
The Patriots have been one of the best teams in the league at protecting their quarterback, and the Texans pride themselves on their ability to get after the quarterback (fifth in sacks with 44), but they rely heavily on the blitz to do it. Brady decimated the Texans blitz in the last meeting, going 14-of-21 passing for 159 yards and three touchdowns on 22 plays in which the Texans rushed extra defenders (via ProFootballFocus.com).
Texans offense vs. Patriots defense
These two units have been more spotty in their production than their counterparts, but both have been getting the job done this year and still rank in the top 10 in scoring.
The Patriots pass defense has been a victim of volume, with the seventh-most pass attempts against them of any team in the NFL. As usual, they have been proficient in grabbing interceptions, and Devin McCourty picked one off from Matt Schaub in the previous meeting.
Schaub has been very efficient in the passing game despite playing second fiddle to running back Arian Foster. The Texans still rank in the top 10 in passer rating, but a large portion of their success is based on their ability to run the ball; Schaub ranks sixth in play-action pass percentage and has a passer rating that is 23.2 points higher on play-action passes than on standard passes (via ProFootballFocus.com).
The Texans offense relies heavily on their ability to run effectively, which may not bode well for them against a Patriots defense that shuts down the run better than anything else. If the Patriots can put the brakes on Foster, they should have a much easier time dealing with the Texans offense as a whole.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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