- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Dec. 10 meeting between the Patriots and Texans is a good place to start when analyzing next Sunday’s AFC divisional-round playoff game between the teams.
While it’s been established that game won’t have any impact on this one, it does provide a road map of sorts in terms of how the teams attacked each other from an X’s and O’s standpoint.
As we kick off the week, here is a “one-stop-shop” for everything from that game:
1. Game recap -- Patriots 42, Texans 14. The Associated Press noted that quarterback Tom Brady was playing for the first time since the birth of his daughter, Vivian.
2. Offensive snaps played. No tight end Rob Gronkowski for the Patriots. Also, Donte' Stallworth played as the No. 3 receiver over Deion Branch.
3. Defensive snaps played. Rookie defensive end Chandler Jones was eased into the mix after missing 11 quarters with an ankle injury. His matchup against left tackle Duane Brown is a big one this time around, especially with Rob Ninkovich (hip) potentially not 100 percent.
4. Spending more time in base defense. Because the Texans run the majority of their plays with multiple tight ends or backs on the field, the Patriots spent the majority of snaps (47 of 70) in their base defense. The same is likely to be the case on Sunday.
5. Sticking with multiple tight ends on offense. With limited depth at receiver, the Patriots ran the majority of their snaps with multiple tight ends (46 of 73), with Aaron Hernandez and Michael Hoomanawanui the top options. Look for Gronkowski to replace Hoomanawanui. The Texans matched with their base defense.
6. Film review. Field Yates' weekly film review noted some struggles in pass coverage from Patriots linebackers.
7. Play-action game produces TD. In his weekly breakdown segment on Patriots.com, Bill Belichick highlighted the effective use of play-action to set up a Brandon Lloyd touchdown.
8. Defense comes of age. ESPNBoston.com columnist Jackie MacMullan wrote on the defense coming of age.
9. Brady's MVP night. Quarterback Tom Brady was showered with "M-V-P! M-V-P!" chants after he ran for a first down at the end of the third quarter, and his emotion bubbled to the surface.
10. Texans learn a lesson. Paul Kuharsky, who covers the AFC South for ESPN.com, covered the Texans' perspective and how they were given a tutorial on what it takes to be a champion.
11. Twitter follows. For those looking for the Texans' perspective this week, a few recommendations: Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com, Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle and Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle.
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