Setting the scene: Patriots-Texans
|01.13.13 at 12:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Unseasonably mild temperatures in the mid-50s are expected for the 4:30 AFC divisional kickoff between the Patriots and Texans at Gillette Stadium.
The temperatures combined with the lack of heavy wind should make for ideal conditions for both offenses.
With a win, the Patriots will host the Ravens for a second straight year in the AFC championship at Gillette Stadium.
The Texans are in the divisional round for a second straight season, losing last year in Baltimore to the Ravens.
The Patriots are as healthy as they have been since the beginning of the season. Bill Belichick removed 15 names from the team’s official injury report Friday, with the five remaining players all listed as probable. Rob Gronkowski is one of five listed as probable after making his return from a broken left forearm in the season finale. Also, Marquice Cole (finger), Trevor Scott (knee), Nick McDonald (shoulder) and Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring/knee) are listed as probable.
Gronkowski was not available the last time the Patriots played the Texans on Dec. 10. Still, the Patriots put 42 points up on the board and Tom Brady was 21-of-35 for 296 yards and four touchdowns.
Pass rusher Rob Ninkovich was one of the 15 names taken off the injury report on Friday, a sign that he is close to full strength after straining muscles in his left hip in the season finale against the Dolphins.
With a win, Brady will pass his boyhood idol Joe Montana as the winningest quarterback in NFL playoff history. Brady is 16-6 all-time in the postseason. Montana was 16-7 in the playoffs, including 4-0 in Super Bowls.
Belichick can also make NFL playoff coaching history with a win. If the Patriots beat the Texans, Belichick will move ahead of Joe Gibbs and into sole possession of third place all-time in postseason wins with 18. Tom Landry is first with 20. Don Shula is second with 19.