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AFC Playoff: Patriots meet Texans in AFC Divisional Matchup

New England hosts Houston in an AFC divisional playoff today in front of a sellout crowd at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The weather for the game is expected to be unseasonably warm for mid January and should not affect the outcome of the game.

New England enters today’s matchup with a record of 12-4 SU and 6-2 SU at home. Houston had a similar regular season record of 12-4 SU and 6-2 SU on the road, and won their wildcard matchup last week against a tough Cincinnati Bengals team 19-13.

New England’s quarterback Tom Brady has played better than every other quarterback has in the playoffs for over a decade. Today he will be leading New England in his 23rd playoff game, a franchise record.

The two teams faced one another in week 14 of the regular season on December 10. Brady had four touchdown passes in the game and 296 yards through the air as the Patriots routed the Texans 42-14.

Matt Schaub will make his second career start in the playoffs today after helping the Texans take down Cincinnati last week. However, in last week’s game he had a pick six.

If Houston holds an edge on offense, it is on the ground. Running back Arian Foster set an NFL record last week after rushing for 100 in his third consecutive playoff game. No other player has rushed for the century mark in his first three playoff games. This season, in games that Foster ran for 100 or more yards, the Texans were 8-0. However, in the first game head to head with New England this season, Foster only managed 46 yards on the ground.

New England will use Stevan Ridley to run the ball to keep the Houston defense honest. This season Ridley had over 1,260 yards rushing and 12 TDs on the ground. In the first game between the two teams in December, Ridley ran for 72 yards.

Defensively the Texans have an edge in the matchup with J.J. Watt the league’s premier pass rusher lining up at defensive end. He led the league in sacks with 20.5 and deflected 16 passes this season. Overall, the Texans’ defense was ranked No. 7 this season.

New England was No. 25 in overall defense, but No. 9 against the rush. The running game for Houston is critical and if the Patriots can shut that down, they will make Schaub have to beat them through the air.

Under current head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots are 10-2 SU at home in 12 playoff appearances.

New England comes into the game favored at home by 9 ½ points a huge spread for a playoff game. They are rested after their bye week and they are as healthy as they have been all season, with Rob Gronkowski returning at tight end and Rob Ninkovich at linebacker.

New England has much more playoff experience than Houston has and has the best playoff quarterback on the planet in Brady. The Patriots will win this game both straight up and against the spread convincingly 37-20.

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