They are 11-1 and holding down the top spot in the AFC, but the Houston Texans will enter Gillette Stadium on Monday with their fingers crossed.
Injuries all along the Houston defense -- especially in the secondary -- make a showdown with the explosive Patriots a daunting challenge.
This week, the Texans lost slot corner Brice Brown in a game against Tennessee to a broken foot. Meanwhile, corners Johnathan Joseph and Alan Ball have each missed the Texans past two games. Linebackers Brian Cushing and Brooks Reed also missed Sunday. Cushing is done for the year; Reed may need another week or two before he returns.
The secondary is the big concern, though. A concern the Texans are reportedly addressing Tuesday by signing defensive back Stanford Routt.
Second-year cornerbacks Brandon Harris and Roc Carmichael filled in last week for Houston in their 24-10 win.
We know were going to play a great player and one of the top passing games in the business for a long, long time, coach Gary Kubiak told the Houston media this week. Its a challenge.Our season is going to be about some of these young guys stepping up. Im excited for them. I liked what I saw from Brandon and Roc. Theyre going to have to rise to the occasion, and we can sure help them if we can rush the passer like we did (in Tennesee).Two Texans linemen missed lat week with concussions -- right tackle Derek Newton and right guard Antoine Caldwell missed the Tennessee game as well.
This is no pity party for Houston. The Patriots have plenty of injury issues to deal with themselves, especially along the offensive line and at wide receiver.
But the potency of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 set is compromised on the back end.
In the past three games, the Texans have allowed 372, 410 and 265 yards passing to the Jaguars, Lions and Titans. In the first eight games of the year, Houston allowed more than 300 yards passing just twice (328 to Green Bay and 316 to Denver).