- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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HOUSTON -- Welcome to Reliant Stadium, where the Patriots visit the Texans (1 p.m. ET):
A feel for Reliant Stadium: This is a retractable roof facility and the roof is currently closed. The Texans will have the roof open for the game, however, which is just the second time this season it will be open. There are three distinct levels of seating in the fully enclosed stadium, with the first and third levels blue and the middle level red. Large video boards, high above each end zone, extend from each side. The seating capacity is 71,500, which is a few thousand more than Gillette Stadium.
Natural grass playing field part of the story: The Texans’ home field is natural grass and pieced together like a puzzle in certain areas. Workers were on the field four hours before kickoff patching some of the areas with a dirt-like substance. As the first Patriots bus arrived at the stadium, some of the player stopped on the field and tapped the surface to get a feel for it. Of course, this is the field where Wes Welker tore his ACL in 2009 and Bill Belichick later talked about the condition of the field being subpar.
Three more inactives to declare: With cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee), tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (knee), right tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle) and receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) already ruled out, the Patriots have three more players to declare inactive. Those decisions must be made 90 minutes before kickoff.
Morelli gets the call: Pete Morelli has been assigned to referee today’s game.
Stat of the day: With a victory, the Patriots will clinch a winning season for the 13th straight year, the longest active streak and three shy of tying the Cowboys and 49ers for the record (16) since the NFL merger (1970).
Houston’s captains from all sports: The Texans are welcoming “captains” from all the professional sports teams in the city today -- former Texan Chester Pitts, along with Larry Dierker (Astros), Robert Horry (Rockets) and Brian Ching (Dynamo).