Both sides need to make statements in this contest, which was flexed to prime time.
For the Patriots, it's a chance to show they won't keep sliding with a myriad of injuries and a dangerous penchant for allowing big plays. Their second straight defeat last week, against Philadelphia, featured three returns for touchdowns by the Eagles.
Houston is tied with Indianapolis for the AFC South lead and visits the Colts next week. The Texans' staunch defense was blistered in Buffalo and needs a quick turnaround against Tom Brady. Of course, with J.J. Watt on their side, that could happen for the Texans, though Watt is playing with a broken left hand.