Game info: Patriots vs. Texans

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Game info: Patriots vs. Texans

GAME TIME: 4:30 p.m. EST

TV NETWORK: CBS

TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Patriots lead, 3-1

LAST MEETING: Patriots 42, Texans 12 at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 10, 2012

New England has qualified for the playoffs 20 times in its 53-year history. The Pats have won 15 division crowns, including 10 in the last 12 seasons, and have qualified as a Wild Card team on four occasions (1976, 1985, 1994, and 1998). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players strike.

The Patriots have compiled a 23-16 record in their 39 playoff games and their .589 playoff winning percentage is the third best in NFL history among teams that have played at least 10 playoff games.

The Patriots are 13-3 at home in the playoffs in their history.

The Patriots have compiled a 9-6 all-time record in divisional playoff games, including 6-2 at home and 4-1 at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots have an all-time record of 82-47-1 (.635) against AFC South teams, the only division in which the Patriots have winning records against each team. They are 23-16-1 against Tennessee, 47-29 against Indianapolis, 9-1 against Jacksonville and 3-1 against Houston.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Bill Belichick (17) needs one more postseason victory to move ahead of Joe Gibbs for sole possession of third place all-time in postseason wins. Tom Landry (20) is in first place, followed by Don Shula (19).

Tom Brady (16) needs one more postseason victory to break a tie with Joe Montana (16) for most playoff wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

Brady has played in 22 playoff games with the Patriots and needs to play in one more to break a tie with Tedy Bruschi for most playoff games by a Patriots player.

Brady (39) needs seven more postseason touchdowns passes to move past Joe Montana (45) and Brett Favre (44) for the all-time lead.

Brady (5,285) needs 571 postseason yards to set the all-time NFL record for most postseason yards. Brett Favre (5,855), Joe Montana (5,772) and Peyton Manning (5,679) are currently ahead of Brady.

Brady (5) needs to play in one more Super Bowl to match DL Mike Lodish, who played in six (four with Buffalo and two with Denver).

Deion Branch (54) needs five receptions in the postseason to pass Troy Brown (58) for the most career playoff receptions in franchise history. Wes Welker (53) needs six more receptions to pass Brown.

Welker (438) needs 257 postseason receiving yards to move past Troy Brown (694) into second place all-time on the franchise list of postseason receiving yards, behind Branch (836).

Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back

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Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back

This hasn’t been easy for Malcolm Butler. None of it. He’s never been given anything. Hell, at times he’s pissed his future away. But with a tenacity that reminds you of a certain 199th pick in the 2000 draft, Butler has fought his way back, into college, into the pros and, in 2015 and 2016, into the upper echelon of NFL cornerbacks. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champ, making arguably the most memorable play in the history of that game.

He should be drinking in the adulation, savoring an incredible start to his career and a very lucrative future. Instead, he’s in both professional and Patriots purgatory. Free agency beckons but there’s a season to play, and as this is the only professional team he’s known, a burning desire to be recognized as an important piece, not just in the present, but the future of this organization as well.
 
One of his closest friends on the team, Dion Lewis, calls Butler a warrior. “The game means so much to him.”

Another teammate, fellow defensive back Devin McCourty said of Butler, “This is what he does. He competes.”

Duron Harmon insists that the 27-year-old corner has been the same guy he’s always been. Actually, they all say that. But clearly, the coaching staff sees something different, leading to Butler’s demotion Sunday in New Orleans. 
 
Bill Belichick has been short when talking about Butler dating all the way back to the spring. That hasn’t changed now that the games count. He’s dismissed past performance. All that matters is how you’re playing now. Butler has not established that same level. Why? There is no easy answer.
 
The lack of a new contract cuts deeply. The unsettling offseason -- was he going to be a Saint? -- left quite a mark as well. But Butler came back to Foxboro with purpose, reporting for voluntary workouts. He was hell-bent on proving to all -- Belichick included -- that he was still the lead dog, not Stephon Gillmore, despite the $31 million dollars in guaranteed money the organization forked over to the former Buffalo Bill.
 
That strategy worked for a time. Butler was one of the Pats best players in training camp, right up until the joint practices with the Texans midway through August. What happened? Butler doesn’t know. But one mistake became two. His play in the preseason game with Houston was poor. His confidence suffered. He started pressing. That didn’t help. Butler was just as bad at Detroit. The kid that had always answered a knockdown with one of his own, instead wobbled to his feet. The inconsistencies were evident in practice but the "he's-Malcolm-he'll-fix-it" thought process that teammates echoed didn’t prove true, at least not entirely.
 
According to Eric Rowe, the cornerbacks were informed of the role change at the beginning of last week. But other teammates said they didn’t realize Butler wasn’t starting until the walkthrough Saturday. The ensuing fallout wasn’t surprising -- HE’S MALCOLM BUTLER, SUPER BOWL HERO, DAMMIT -- but the worry around the team has been justified because Butler takes things to heart. His swagger comes from the game. That was stripped away prior to the game against the Saints, and even at the beginning of this week, leading into the Texans game. Butler had to get his head right. If his meeting with the media Thursday is an indication, he has.

But the proof is in the play. Butler has always known that. And while his play didn’t warrant a role reduction, another message has been sent by the powers that be in Foxboro. What happens next is all on Butler. His future depends on it.

CSNNE SCHEDULE

Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

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Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

FOXBORO -- Anyone hoping to see Vincent Valentine make his season debut got some bad news Friday. 

Valentine, who has been inactive for both of the Patriots' first two games with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve. ESPN's Field Yates was first to report the news.

With Valentine on IR, Geneo Grissom was added to the roster from the practice squad. ESPN's Mike Reiss had that one first:

Valentine, whom the Pats chose 96th overall in 2016, has not been practicing with the team as he's dealt with the knee injury.

A third-round pick of the Pats in 2015, Grissom was released by the team in September and signed to the practice squad a day later.