I've looked into my crystal ball and, of course, nothing was there. But here's my guess at how this game is going to go. Pats win the toss and defer. Houston gets the ball and promptly marches down the field. Foster rips off a couple of good runs and Schaub connects with Daniels and Andre Johnson for a couple of good gains. They get into the red zone but the Pats hold and force a FG. 3-0 Houston. Pats get the ball deep in their own territory after a penalty on the kick return. They manage one first down before the drive flames out with really good play by the Texans' front four, especially a fired-up Watt. Pats punt to the Texans, who start their next drive near midfield. Again, the Texans start to move the ball, and get to the Pats' 30 before the defense once again stiffens. Houston kicks a long field goal to go up 6-0. The commentary in the game thread is not pleasant. NE moves the ball a little on their second possession but is forced to punt again, giving the Texans the ball at around their own 35. We're not happy, and Brady is barking at his teammates on the sideline. Fortunately, the defense steps up and forces a 3-and-out, and Brady gets the ball right back towards the end of the first quarter. The Pats start to move the ball on screen passes and good runs, and the screens start neutralizing the heavy Texans rush. They reach midfield by the end of the first quarter, down 6-0 still. The drive continues as Brady hits Hernandez and Welker for good gains, and they get into the red zone. They convert a huge 3rd down to keep the drive alive, and Ridley punches it in for a 7-6 Pats lead. Houston is able to muster a few first downs but we are fortunate that Schaub misses some open receivers and they are forced to punt again. NE gets the ball with about 8 minutes left in the half and starts to march again. Up tempo, no-huddle, Brady slinging darts all over the place. They smartly march down the field again before the drive stalls and they're forced to kick a field goal to go up 10-6. Houston gets the ball with about 5 minutes left and the Pats' defense buries them, giving the Pats the ball back with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. Brady connects with Gronk down the seam and Woodhead springs a short pass for about 20. Next thing you know, Brady is hitting Welker for a short TD pass to end the half with the Pats up 17-6. NE gets the ball to start the 3rd quarter and they march down the field again, with Brady finding all his guys at various points. The offense is humming. Pats punch it in again to go up 24-6. Game is over. Right? Right? Not so fast. Houston gets the ball back and a long pass interference penalty sets them up inside the NE 20. Foster catches a swing pass for big yardage and they manage to score a TD to make it 24-13. It's a game again. And now the Texans' defense gets its act together. They force a Ridley fumble on the Pats' side of the field, and put the offense in gear again. Fortunately, a penalty stalls the drive and they have to kick another field goal, cutting the deficit to 24-16. NE stalls again at the end of the 3rd quarter and is forced to punt, giving the Texans the ball down 24-16. As the fourth quarter opens, we have a ball game. The Texans get a couple of first downs but can't do more than that and NE gets the ball back. This time, the Pats embark on a long, slow, time-consuming drive that eats up 7 minutes of game time. It culminates with a Brady sneak for a TD to put them up 31-16 and we start to breathe easier, as there is just 5 minutes left on the clock. The Pats' defense, though, yields a nice drive by the Texans, as Schaub starts to find a rhythm. Quickly they move down the field, and Schaub hits Johnson for a nice TD just before the 2-minute warning to make it 31-23. The Pats now have a chance to run out the clock if Houston kicks it away. Which they do, as they have all 3 time outs left. The Pats run play action on first down and Brady hits Welker for 6. Timeout, Houston, 2:03 left. Brady then, knowing that a running play won't run out the clock anyway because of the 2-minute warning that's coming up, tries to hit Gronk down the seam but it's incomplete, setting up 3rd and 4. Tough play call here. Run, hope for the first down, but in either case force a Hou time out? Or try to throw for the first down? Well, in true Patriots' fashion, they throw, and Brady's pass is batted down by Watt with 1:50 left. Pats are forced to punt, and all of patsfans is in a frenzy...and not in a good way. Houston takes over at their 25, and suddenly the Pats' pass rush disappears. Schaub connects with receivers on three straight possessions, moving them to the Pats' 40 with about a minute left. They get inside the red zone with one time out left. On 2nd and 2 from the 18, with 0:35 left, Schaub takes a shot for the end zone, but Ninkovich puts pressure on, forcing a rushed throw. The Pats seize the day and make the interception in the end zone, ending the game. Final stats: Brady: 20-34 for 260 yds, 2 td, 0 int, 1 rushing td Ridley: 17 att, 83 yds, 1 td Welker: 6 rec, 70 yds, 1 td Hernandez: 5 rec, 80 yds, 1 td Schaub: 25-41 for 307 yds, 2 td, 1 int Foster: 15 att, 51 yds, 1 rec td Johnson: 9 rec, 130 yds, 1 td And we all breathe a huge sigh of relief.