Patriots-Texans: Three matchups to watch

December, 7, 2012
12/07/12
3:02
PM ET
Monday night’s Patriots-Texans game (8:30 p.m., on ESPN) is chock full of intriguing matchups. Here are three we’ll be keeping an eye on:

* Texans disruptive pass rush vs. Brady and Patriots’ offensive line: The Texans have sent five or more pass rushers on a league-high 43.7 percent of dropbacks this season. Although Houston has the most passes disrupted (40) when sending such pressure, it also allowed the most touchdowns and 30-plus yard passes. Tom Brady has the most attempts without an interception (114) against five or more rushers this season, with a league-best 15 touchdowns.

J.J. Watt leads the NFL with 15 passes batted or tipped this season, with five of those passes leading to interceptions. Even without Watt’s totals, the Texans would still lead the NFL in batted or tipped passes. Tom Brady has had only eight passes batted or tipped this season (20 QBs with more).

* Patriots’ running game vs. Texans run D (exploiting mismatches): No team has a higher percentage of rushes against defenses with five or more defensive backs this season than the Patriots (73.5 percent), thanks in some part to the hurry-up approach they employ to create mismatches in the running game. The Texans have allowed 6.0 yards per rush when using such defenses this season, the worst rate in the NFL, but have allowed the second-fewest yards per rush (3.3) with four or fewer defensive backs on field.

* Patriots’ run defense vs. Arian Foster: The Patriots' defense has allowed 1.3 yards per rush after first contact this season, the second-best rate in the NFL behind the 49ers (1.2). Arian Foster has averaged 1.3 yards per rush after contact this season, tied for second-worst among running backs with 80 rushes.

Foster leads the NFL with 15 TD this season, 5 more than any other player. He has scored a TD in his last 7 road games, the longest streak since LaDainian Tomlinson from 2009-10. The last player to score a TD in 8 straight road games was Randy Moss in 2007.

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