Monday night's matchup between the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots was supposed to be a battle of the AFC titans, but the Texans apparently missed the memo. The Patriots got off to a quick start offensively and defensively, and they never looked back.
The real story of the night wasn't the Patriots' 42 points. They're known for putting up big numbers on offense, and it's no surprise they diced the Texans' defense. No, the story is the fourteen points the Texans managed, all of which came after the game was already decided.
The Texans have shown weakness before. Nearly a month ago, the Texans needed overtime to beat the Jaguars, one of the worst teams in the league. In that game, the Texans defense played equally as poorly as on Monday night, but their offense was their to bail them out. Against a top tier team, the Texans' offense was restrained, and they never stood a chance.
The win pulls the Patriots within a game of the top seeded Texans, and having won their only head to head game, the Patriots now own the tie-breaker as well. The Texans still play the Colts twice as well as hosting Minnesota in their final three weeks. The Patriots face a touch San Francisco 49ers at home next week, but they close out the year against the Jaguars and Miami.
Considering the Texans' remaining schedule, it's likely that they'll be able to hold off the Patriots and Broncos for the AFC's top slot heading into the playoffs, but they've shown far more vulnerability than the Patriots or Broncos of late. It's even likely they can handle a wildcard round team, whether it be the Ravens, Steelers or Bengals, but if they have to face the Patriots again, they better come into the game far more prepared than they were on Monday night.