Monday, December 10, 2012
We'll help you get ready for MNF
Monday has finally arrived. The New England Patriots (9-3) host the Houston Texans (11-1) with perhaps the AFC’s top seed on the line, and we’ll have you covered the whole way. We’ve rolled out a bunch of content that previews the matchup from every angle.
Here’s a recap of some of it to help get you through the day at the office ...
* Bruschi’s Breakdown: Former Patriots linebacker and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi and ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss break down tonight’s game from every angle and in all three phases. It’s required reading if you want to watch the games within the game.
* Our predictions: Our four experts pick the Patriots to beat the Texans, but by an average of just four points. Each one also predicts a fairly high-scoring game. Of the 12 ESPN experts polled, eight picked the Patriots, with four -- Mike Golic, Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter and Cris Carter -- taking the Texans.
* Guess the game plan: Our guys try to predict how Bill Belichick will attack the Texans. Reiss thinks the team will lean heavily on the hurry-up to take advantage of mismatches in the running game, while Mike Rodak and Field Yates think New England will focus on taking advantage of a banged-up Houston secondary.
* What to watch for: Yates lists five things he’ll be watching for tonight that could help determine the outcome of the game: 1. Containing J.J. Watt; 2. Defending the play-action; 3. Impact of injuries; 4. Performance of the Texans' secondary; and 5. Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
* Injury report: The Patriots have listed Rob Gronkowski as out for the game (broken forearm) and 13 players as questionable. Among the 13 questionable, the key ones are offensive lineman Logan Mankins and defensive end Chandler Jones, both of whom are expected to play.
* Coach’s big decision: With Julian Edelman out for the season, Rodak projects who will fill spot returning punts.
* Three matchups to watch: ESPN Stats & Information gives us three matchups to watch tonight: the Texans’ disruptive pass rush against the Pats’ protection, the Pats’ running game against the Houston run D and the New England run defense against Houston running back Arian Foster.
* Patriots’ path to the bye: The Raven’s loss means the Patriots hold their playoff fate in their own hands. Here’s a look at the race for a top-2 seed in the AFC playoffs.
You can watch the game on your computer on WatchESPN.com and can participate in our in-game chat as well. Postgame, keep it here for our Rapid Reaction, report card, analysis and much more from our team of reporters on site at Gillette.