While the Patriots’ defense continues to operate at an elite level, Tom Brady and the offense are sputtering heading into Sunday night’s showdown on the road against the Texans in a clash of AFC division leaders.
How to Watch:
When: Sunday, Dec. 1
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
The Patriots (10–1) lead the AFC East by two games over the Bills and still have a one-game lead over the only team to defeat them–the Ravens–for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. New England has won back-to-back games since that loss, but both victories were grind out affairs.
That was especially true last Sunday in a 13–9 victory over the Cowboys. Brady and the Patriots were held under 300 total yards for the second straight game, and the lone touchdown drive was only 12 yards, set up by a blocked punt by Matthew Slater in the first quarter.
Brady finished 17 of 37 for 190 yards and a touchdown in the wind and rain, with rookie N’Keal Harry getting his first touchdown catch. Sony Michel labored for 85 yards on 20 carries, as New England’s offensive line continues to struggle to string together solid performances. Michel has 600 yards, but his 3.4 yards per carry is more than a yard off his 2018 rookie average of 4.5 per carry.
There have been no whispers about the 42-year-old Brady declining, but his 62.2 completion percentage is tracking to be his worst since 2013 (60.5) and he has just 15 touchdown passes on the season.
While the offense struggles to gain traction, the defense continues to produce. Last Sunday’s win marked the fifth time New England did not concede an offensive touchdown and the Patriots lead the league in scoring defense at 10.6 points per game allowed.
After impressively holding Amari Cooper without a catch, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore will line up against another of the NFL’s elite receivers in DeAndre Hopkins. The seventh-year Texans receiver has team-highs of 81 receptions and 839 yards as he powers to his third consecutive 1,000-yard season and fifth of his career.
Houston (7–4) leads the AFC South by one game over Indianapolis after beating the Colts 20–17 in Week 12. Hopkins and Deshaun Watson connected on a go-ahead 30-yard scoring pass with 12:34 to play, and the Texans’ defense did not allow Indianapolis to penetrate further than Houston’s 47-yard line on its last two possessions with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Watson threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns, both to Hopkins, who finished with six catches for 94 yards. Will Fuller made an instant impact in his return after a three-week absence with a hamstring injury, totaling seven receptions for 140 yards. Fuller has been feast or famine, totaling 21 of his 41 catches and 417 of his 590 yards in two games.
New England has won eight straight games against Houston, including the playoffs, but Watson has made the Texans competitive in the two games he has played. Houston has lost those games by a combined 10 points, including a 27–20 loss to open last season. Brady is 9–1 lifetime vs. Houston, throwing for 2,842 yards and 25 TDs.