When the 2013 schedule was released last April, the Texans and their fans no doubt circled the Week 13 matchup with New England at Reliant Stadium as a key contest. After all, the Patriots drummed Houston two times in the span of a month at the end of 2012 and beginning of this year.
With the Texans mired in a nine-game losing streak, the game lost a lot of the luster. But it hasn't dampered either side from heaping praise on one another.
"They're healthy and in position to make their big run right now and playing extremely well," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said Wednesday. "It starts with their leadership, their head coach is tremendous, their quarterback's been tremendous for many many years."
Even though Kubiak and company are 2-9 in 2013, it didn't stop New England head coach Bill Belichick from being complimentary.
"I know the record is disappointing, but it's a good football team," Belichick said via a conference call
on Wednesday. "I see a team that looks a lot closer to last year's record than this year's. They're one or two plays away. You know that that's going to turn at some point."
The Texans entered the Monday night game in Week 14 last season with an 11-1 record. The Patriots won that contest convincingly, but the Texans don't attribute that loss, or the one that followed in the playoffs in January, to their current predicament.
"They were games we just didn't win," wide receiver Andre Johnson said. "We went up there and just didn't get the job done. That's pretty much it."
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said he's mightily impressed with the Texans defense.
"They're the highest rated defense against the pass and one of the highest, if not the highest rated defense in the League," Brady said. "Defensively, they're playing pretty good. They have probably the best front we've faced all season and good linebackers and some playmakers in the secondary. We have a big challenge."