Despite a pair of close calls the past two weeks, the New England Patriots remain tied for the best overall record in football and set an NFL mark last week by posting their 17th consecutive season with 10 wins. Holding the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the Patriots have a chance to wrap up a playoff spot when they visit the Houston Texans on Sunday night.
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New England has dominated the series with Houston, winning eight in a row (playoffs included), but eight players missed practice Wednesday due to flu-like symptoms sweeping through the locker room. "We had guys come in, you'd look in their eyes and you could just tell they were out of it," safety Devin McCourty said. "Hopefully a day at home, with meds and rest, helps guys out." Texans coach Bill O'Brien, who has his team sitting atop the AFC South, was a former assistant with the Patriots and knows what he is up against, losing all five matchups against mentor Bill Belichick. "We have a lot of respect for the Patriots," O'Brien said. "I'm very grateful to Bill for the opportunities he gave me, and then, obviously, I have a lot of close friends on the staff over there that I worked with."
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Patriots -3 O/U: 45
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (10-1): Defense continues to carry New England, which scored a combined 30 points in back-to-back victories over Philadelphia (17-10) and Dallas (13-9). Playing in miserable, rainy conditions, Tom Brady completed a season-worst 45.9 percent of his passes in last week's win over Dallas while going with two rookies at wide receiver, although Julian Edelman had eight catches for 93 yards -- the sixth time in seven games he had at least seven receptions. Sony Michel had 85 yards rushing on 20 carries but has yet to hit 100 this season. The Patriots lead the league in points allowed (10.6) and interceptions (20) while ranking second versus the pass (158.0 yards).
ABOUT THE TEXANS (7-4): Like New England, Houston was shredded at Baltimore before rebounding with a 20-17 win over Indianapolis in a showdown for division supremacy as Deshaun Watson threw for 298 yards with two scores and one interception. Speedster Will Fuller returned from missing more than a month with a hamstring injury and had seven receptions for 140 yards while DeAndre Hopkins hauled in a pair of touchdown passes and has 57 catches over his past seven games. Carlos Hyde has been solid if unspectacular, rushing for at least 60 yards in six of seven games to move within 164 of 1,000. The Texans are vulnerable through the air, ranking 25th at 259.3 yards per game.
1. Brady has 1,548 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and two interceptions in the last five versus Houston.
2. Watson has thrown for 1,003 yards with 10 TDs and one pick in his last three at home.
3. Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett was cleared from the league's concussion protocol on Wednesday.
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News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
- HamstringOut indefinitely | I-R
Moore has been placed on the injured reserve list with a left hamstring injury, and it is uncertain when he will be activated.
- HamstringQues Sun | questionable
Kalambayi has been held out of the previous two games due to a hamstring injury, and it is uncertain if he will take the field Sunday versus the Vikings.
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Johnson has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, and he it is unclear if he will be ready for Sunday's matchup against the Vikings.
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Greenard has sat out the past three games due to an ankle injury, and it is unknown if he will suit up against the Vikings on Sunday.
- LegQues Sun | questionable
Cunningham exited the last game due to a leg injury, and it is unclear if he will play Sunday against the Vikings.
- ElbowProb Sun | probable
Tunsil is dealing with an elbow injury, but he is projected to line up against the Steelers on Sunday.
- GroinProb Sun | probable
Watt has a groin injury, but he is likely to face the Steelers on Sunday.
- IllnessProb Sun | probable
Stills is suffering from an unspecified illness, but he is expected to take the field against the Steelers on Sunday.
New England Patriots
- PersonalQues Sun | questionable
White has missed the last two games as he was away from the team due to a death in the family. It is unknown if he will return to the fold against the Chiefs on Sunday.
- AnkleOut indefinitely | I-R
Uche has been ticketed for the injured reserve list with an ankle injury, and it is uncertain when the team will activate him.
- NeckQues Sun | questionable
Keene has been held out of the past three games due to a neck injury, and it is unclear if he will make his season debut Sunday versus the Chiefs.
- FingerQues Sun | questionable
Harris has been activated from the injured reserve list after recovering from surgery on his pinky finger. It has yet to be established if he will face the Chiefs on Sunday.
- KneeProb Sun | probable
Edelman is expected to suit up against the Chiefs on Sunday despite a knee injury.
- QuadricepQues Sun | questionable
Michel is managing a quad injury, and it is unclear if he will line up against the Chiefs on Sunday.
- ThumbOut indefinitely | I-R
Andrews has been entered on the injured reserve list while he is mend from surgery to repair a broken thumb on his right hand. There is no timetable for recovery.
- CalfQues Sun | questionable
Wynn has a calf injury, and it has yet to be established if he will be on the field for Sunday's battle with the Raiders.