- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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The day before each game this season, this space will feature one big decision facing New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his staff, in terms of the game plan.
This week's decision: Should the Patriots defer their decision to the second half if they win the opening coin toss?
At first glance, this one seems like a no-brainer. Of course the Patriots should defer if they win the toss. That's what worked for them last time against the Texans, right?
Indeed, the Patriots won the toss back when Houston came to New England back in Week 14. The Texans chose to receive the opening kickoff, punted, and then the Patriots marched downfield to take a 7-0 lead.
Taking a 21-0 lead into halftime, the Patriots had the luxury of receiving the kickoff to start the second half. They punted, but the Texans followed it up with a three-and-out. In the end, the decision to defer the toss had little effect on the outcome of the game.
On Sunday, the Patriots could opt not to defer the toss if they win it, and try to get off to a fast start. Psychologically, the Patriots' taking a 7-0 lead on the opening possession of the game could cause the Texans to feel like they rewinded a month, right back in an early hole in New England.
Likewise, the Patriots' winning the opening toss and deferring could allow the Texans to get off to the start they would have preferred back in December. Putting the Patriots in an early 7-0 hole would exorcise whatever demons remain from Week 14, and give both teams (and the crowd) the feeling that the slate has been wiped clean, and anything could happen.
What do you think? Should the Patriots stick with their time-tested decision to defer the opening toss? After all, it's a playoff game, and and the second half could be the most important 30 minutes of football this season. Or should they consider the psychological factors weighing on the Texans and try to take a lead before Houston can possess the ball?
Vote in the poll and join the discussion in the comments section below.