His name is Gladiator. - Jim McIsaac
If you're only going to read one horribly lacking and totally laughable prediction column about the Texans-Patriots tilt on Monday Night Football, let it be this one.
I'll start this edition of "Three and Out" with a simple question: As a Texans fan, can you think of a regular season game that you've been more excited about? The only other game that I believe was in the same ballpark was the first regular season game in franchise history against the Cowboys in 2002. And back then, I didn't expect the Texans to win; it was more a case of being excited about the NFL being back in Houston than anything else.
Today, ten years later, it's quite an understatement to say things have changed. Your Houston Texans are 11-1. They're currently the proud owners of the best record in the entire league. More importantly, they have the inside track on homefield advantage for the AFC Playoffs. Tonight, they'll put that on the line on Monday Night Football against the 9-3 New England Patriots. How freaking awesome is that?
I know we're all preparing for the postseason (an amazing thing for a Texans fan to be typing in early December, particularly in light of 2002-2010), but I'm going to savor tonight. There hasn't been a Texans regular season game about which I've been more pumped, and I hope to see all of you at BRBAPALOOZA this evening so we can bask in this seminal moment of Texans fandom together. With beer.
Prediction time. As always, it is my solemn suggestion that you take every one of these prophecies as the gospel and wager accordingly. Then give me 25% of your winnings. If you lose, we never had this conversation; foot that bill on your own, buddy.
I now give you three things that are sure to happen this evening in Foxborough, Massachusetts:
1. Tom Brady gets sacked four times (J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Connor Barwin, and Glover Quin) and throws one interception (to a returning Johnathan Joseph). Nevertheless, he manages to pass for 262 yards and 3 TDs. That might seem like I'm selling him short, but the weather forecast as of this writing does not augur great passing conditions. Tom Brady is rather good at football.
2. Over his career in games against the Patriots, Matt Schaub is 42-of-73 for 601 yards, 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. Tonight, that TD/INT ratio moves from 5:1 to 3.5:1. The Schaub will toss scoring passes to Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels.
3. The Texans would lean on Arian Foster regardless of the weather, but if the weather's as bad as it's supposed to be, it'll be even more dramatic. Foster had his lightest workload of the season last week in Nashville. Tonight, he returns to the 25+ carry form we've come to expect. He'll finish with 108 yards rushing, add another 13 yards receiving, and find the end zone twice.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: I think this game will live up to the hype. I do not see the Texans laying an egg like they did against the Packers. I expect a back and forth affair that won't be decided until the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. This could well be a preview of the AFC Championship Game. If it is, I'll be hoping for a different result next month than what we'll get tonight. Texans 28, Patriots 31.
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