Patriots stories on ESPNBoston

In addition to the entries on this blog, there are a few longer stories as part of our coverage of the Patriots' 42-14 win over the Texans:

1. It's that time of year for defense. The Patriots haven't lost a game in the second half of a season since 2009 and columnist Jackie MacMullan looks deeper into why the defense seems so much better later in the season. Statistics show that the 'D' usually finds its groove at this tme of year.

2. Brady shows his MVP chops. One of the neat moments for Patriots fans came at the end of the third quarter when Brady ran 6 yards for a first down, and gestured to the crowd to get fired up. That's when a loud "M-V-P! M-V-P!" was heard across the stadium. Reiss writes on Brady strenghening his MVP candidacy.

3. Patriots now the team to beat. AFC East reporter James Walker points out that after a game like that, the Patriots are the top contenders to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. "No NFL contender has this level of elite coaching and elite quarterbacking on the same team. That is what separates the New England Patriots and makes them the new Super Bowl favorites in this topsy-turvy season."

4. Texans take note of Patriots' all-business approach. The Texans said the Patriots showed then what it means to be a champion, reports AFC South reporter Paul Kuharsky. Sometimes, business calls. "I sensed it from the coin toss. It was business, straight up, to them,” defensive lineman Antonio Smith said. "You can see just how serious they were. They’ve been here before."