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Catching up with … the Texans

07.29.13 at 10:18 am ET

As we count down to the start of training camp, we’€™ll take a look at all 13 opponents on the Patriots’€™ regular-season schedule and break down each one of them. We’€™ve already featured the Bills, Jets and Dolphins, as well as the Buccaneers, Falcons, Bengals, Saints, Steelers, Panther and Broncos. Now, it’€™s the Texans.

Specifics: In the first of five games in the final month of the regular season, the Patriots will visit the Texans at Reliant Stadium in Houston at 4:25 p.m. on Dec. 1.

Say goodbye to ‘€¦ running back Justin Forsett, safety Glover Quin, safety Quintin Demps, safety Alan Ball, defensive end Connor Barwin, tight end James Casey, kicker Shayne Graham, wide receiver Kevin Walter.

Welcome ‘€¦ safety Ed Reed, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, offensive tackle Brennan Williams, running back Deji Karim, running back Greg Jones.

Recent history: The teams have not matched up a ton the last few years, but the Patriots have emerged victorious in two out of the last three games, with both of those wins coming last season. First, Tom Brady threw for four touchdowns as the Pats cruised to a 42-14 win on Dec. 10. The score was closer but result the same during a rematch in the AFC divisional round in January, when Houston scored 15 fourth-quarter points but ultimately saw the Patriots end its season, 41-28.

The Texans last came out on top in 2009, a 34-27 win in Week 17.

The Patriots should be worried because ‘€¦ after injuries shortened his 2011 season, Matt Schaub was really, really good again in 2012. He threw for 4,008  yards ‘€” the third time he reached that mark in nine NFL seasons ‘€” to go with his 64.3 completion percentage, good for sixth amongst regulars. He also finished with a 90.7 passer rating, better than Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Cam Newton, among others.

The Patriots shouldn’€™t be worried because ‘€¦ Houston is replacing the trio of Quin, Demps and Ball ‘€” who, granted, weren’€™t all necessarily big-time playmakers ‘€” at safety with the 34-year-old Reed after signing the 11-year NFL veteran to a three-year, $15 million contract in March. The previous threesome, all aged 28 or less, were led by Quin’€™s team-high 84 tackles. Reed had 58 in 2012.

Houston had one of the best defenses around last year, allowing 20.7 points and 323.2 yards per game.

The skinny: The game already has an, um, odd tone to it. After wearing letterman jackets to Gillette Stadium last December, the Texans, who assigned themes to each of its 2013 home games, labeled their date with the Patriots simply as ‘€œHomecoming‘€ without offering detail. But if 2012 is any indication, the night won’€™t include a slow dance for anyone ‘€” the Pats didn’€™t waste any time against the Texans in the two wins, netting a combined 38 first-half points. The Texans are generally expected to be one of the top teams in the league again this season, so this ranks among the more significant non-division games for New England, particularly given the time of year.

Read More: catching up with, Ed Reed, Matt Schaub,



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