After a week off, the Patriots will face the Texans in Gillette Stadium on Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m. ET. Houston outlasted Cincinnati Saturday, 19-16, and now they head back to Foxboro five weeks after being embarrassed on national television during a Monday Night Football get-together. Back on Dec. 10, the Patriots scored 42 points and the Texans looked lost for most of the night.
It was the beginning of Houston's late-season slide, losing three of four before finally beating the Bengals in the wild-card game. But this is football, where fortunes can change from one play to the next, something Texans running back Arian Foster fully understands.
"All it takes is one week to turn things around in the NFL and we did that," Foster said after the game. "We like to run the ball, we like to play good defense. ... We're happy, but we've been here before so we know what to expect."
Houston's defense looked completely outmatched the last time they faced the Patriots but were looked to be in early-season form against Cincy over the weekend. Some of that had to do with defensive end JJ Watt, but it didn't hurt that the Bengals' offense couldn't get out of its own way. Typically, Tom Brady won't let that happen.
A day after the Texans' win, coach Bill Belichick talked about the Pats' next opponent.
“We’re going full-speed ahead here on Houston,” the coach told reporters on Sunday via conference call. “It gives us a little bit of a jump on the situation, so we can spend today and really every day now going forward totally focusing our attention on them. Obviously they had a terrific year and a big win yesterday against Cincinnati. We’re pretty familiar with them because we played them a month ago, but we still have to go through the whole process again.”
Not surprisingly, Belichick isn't interested in looking back, but instead focusing on the near term. Which means that the last game between these two teams means little ahead of Sunday's rematch.
“No, as we all know, when you play a team twice during the season, the games are totally different," he said. "They never go the same way. We’ll be able to certainly look at some of the matchups, individually of guys that faced each other in the game, but as far as plays and calls and things like that matching up, I’m sure they’ll have some new wrinkles and I’m sure we’ll have some too. It will be totally different.”