Here are a couple of topics on the Patriots-Texans matchup of note.
1. Arian Foster not using Shaugnessy column as motivation: CSNHouston- ARian Foster set his avatar on twitter as an excerpt from Dan Shaugnessy's Boston Globe column blasting the Texans. Apparently. he's not using that as fuel for the Texans game.
“I’m active on Twitter and a couple of my followers, they kept sending me the same link,” he said. “I clicked on it and it was the article, the guy that wrote that. I thought it was funny because, the things he used to describe, the cans … the tomato cans are in line or something. I thought it was funny. I always have funny avatars on Twitter, so that was one of them.”
“I don’t care about people that much, as far as what they say,” Foster said. “From a philanthropy standpoint, I care about people but as far as writers, they like to create drama. They like to sit at their desk and say who’s going to do what. It doesn’t mean much to me.”
2. NFL.com says Patriots have worst defense left in the playoffs An NFL.com article ranks the remaining defenses (written before Friday). The Patriots have the worst defense remaining, according to this article. Ignored is that they are among the best in scoring defense and turnovers. Pretty important stats if you ask me.
This unit is better than it had been in recent seasons, though with a point differential of 226 (easily the biggest margin in the league), the Patriots don't rely on their defense as much as other teams. Rookies have played a very important role; Dont'a Hightower and Tavon Wilson have both played well, while Chandler Jones would have been a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year if he hadn't been hurt. Linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork will be the keys to stopping Houston's running game on Sunday.
3. Win the first quarter, win the game? The Texans are 2-4 this season when they trail after the first quarter. The Patriots were up 14-0 after the first quarter on December 10th and will need to do the same later today. The Texans are best when running the ball and throwing off play action, if they're taken out of their game and Matt Schaub is forced to play catch up, they can be dangerous. When winning the first quarter, the Texans are 8-0 and they're 3-0 when they are tied after that opening frame.
Patriots earn PFW honors
1. Gronk, Wilfork and Slater made PFW's all NFL team: Tom Brady and Wes Welker were probably the most notable missing. The Patriots had three selections tied for second with the Broncos, Seahawks and Vikings.
TE Rob Gronkowski / Patriots They don’t make receiving tight ends any better than Gronkowski, whose red-zone chemistry with Patriots QB Tom Brady is a key element in the league’s most productive offense. With 11 TDs in his third season — despite missing five games with a broken forearm — Gronkowski became the first tight end in league history to register 10-plus TD catches in three consecutive seasons.
DT Vince Wilfork / Patriots Arguably New England’s best defensive player, Wilfork commands the trenches and provides an extra dimension with his ability to play both inside or on the edge, when the Pats employ a “30” front. Wilfork makes his share of big plays (three sacks, six passes defensed, two forced fumbles) and has served as a defensive captain for the Patriots for five seasons in a row.
ST Matthew Slater / Patriots A solid gunner, Slater is headed to Honolulu for the second time after leading the Pats in special-teams tackles for the second straight season.
2. Chandler Jones makes PFW All-Rookie team: PFW also put Chandler Jones on the All-Rookie team. A candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year, Jones play tailed off towards the end of the season. He only has one quarterback hit since October. Still good to see him get some recognition.