Texans cage Bengals, will get another chance at Pats

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Texans cage Bengals, will get another chance at Pats

When the Houston Texans visited Foxboro less than a month ago, they tapped out after 45 minutes.

Next Sunday, they'll be back. And the question they'll answer is whether that loss built their resolve or broke it.

The Texans got past Cincinnati Saturday in a Wild Card matchup 24-10. It wasn't a work of art but the Texans haven't really had any of those since November began and their declining performance started in earnest.

Houston worked its way down from the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC down to the third seed by losing three of their final four games.

In taking out the sixth-seeded Bengals, Houston relied on its defense and the soon-to-be NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.

The Texans didn't allow an offensive touchdown while forcing Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton into a 14-for-30 passing evening.

Houston didn't do too much offensively either, managing four field goals and an Arian Foster touchdown.

The Texans were dominated by New England in the first meeting in a game where the stage just seemed too big for quarterback Matt Schaub.

Houston can - if it chooses - lament two things from its first meeting.

They ran into an offensive buzzsaw in New England that took advantage of some Houston injuries. And misfires by Schaub undid their offense rather than New England completely dominating them.

Schaub had the Texans at the Patriots 21 on Houston's second drive before he got picked. The Texans also failed to convert on fourth downs from the Patriots 33 and 38 in the second quarter.

If, if, if. ...

The Patriots, meanwhile, can note that they were without Rob Gronkowski and still scored touchdowns on their first three possessions while rendering Watt a non-factor.

There's plenty of time to mull what's changed and what will be different. But the Texans will know that this trip to New England - and the fact they are traveling at all - dates back to the Monday Night Drubbing they took on December 10.

Tom Brady claims No. 1 spot on NFL's top 100 list

Tom Brady claims No. 1 spot on NFL's top 100 list

The NFL Network revealed the final 10 players on its annual Top 100 list Monday night and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finished in the No. 1 spot.

On NFL.com, the Top 100 list is described as the answer to the question, "Who are the top 100 players in the NFL today?" If that's the criteria -- and not simply performance in 2016 -- then Watt's complaint actually doesn't hold much water. If he's healthy, no one would argue that he's one of the best 35 players "in the NFL today."

Several Patriots players made the cut on this year's list: Rob Gronkowski (No. 23), LeGarrette Blount (No. 80), Julian Edelman (No. 71), Dont'a Hightower (No. 94) and Malcolm Butler (No. 99). 

Brady was also voted in as the No. 1 player back in 2011. 

NFL's Top 10 list revealed Monday night: Where does Tom Brady wind up?

NFL's Top 10 list revealed Monday night: Where does Tom Brady wind up?

NFL players vote every year on which players should make up the list of the best their game has to offer, but it's an imperfect system. And that's probably putting it lightly. 

The NFL Network will reveal the final 10 players on its annual Top 100 list Monday night at 8 p.m. It will be an order that has been chosen by some players, not all. Of those who took part, some hastily made their way through a handful of names at the end of last season handing over their choices. 

Yet it's the list the league ends up with, for better or for worse, prompting responses like JJ Watt's when he found out he was No. 35 this year after playing in three games last season. 

On NFL.com, the Top 100 list is described as the answer to the question, "Who are the top 100 players in the NFL today?" If that's the criteria -- and not simply performance in 2016 -- then Watt's complaint actually doesn't hold much water. If he's healthy, no one would argue that he's one of the best 35 players "in the NFL today."

This year, several Patriots players from 2016 made the cut: Rob Gronkowski (No. 23), LeGarrette Blount (No. 80), Julian Edelman (No. 71), Dont'a Hightower (No. 94) and Malcolm Butler (No. 99). 

Tom Brady will be the last of Bill Belichick's players to be named. He's lumped into a Top 10 that will include Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, Von Miller and Khalil Mack.

Here's what we think the list should look like when the curtain falls on the finale of this flawed endeavor:

10. Elliott
9. Beckham
8. Bell
7. Brown
6. Ryan
5. Jones
4. Miller
3. Mack
2. Rodgers
1. Brady