There will be plenty of analysis leading up to The Game of the Year in the AFC that advances the notion that the Houston Texans must avoid a high-scoring affair with the New England Patriots at all costs. You'll hear how Tom Brady will thrive in this type of game.
It already started on Monday when Gary Kubiak was asked if his 11-1 team could win a "shootout" with the 9-3 Patriots.
"I know our guy can throw the ball around," Kubiak said.
At 35, Brady is something of a different quarterback too. When he's forced to throw the ball all over the field now, New England usually loses.
Which is a lot nicer than saying look up the stats. Not that Kubiak wants to throw cold water on any Tom Brady myths. Especially not this week with Houston only needing to beat Brady in Foxboro (OK, it's a pretty big only) to all but wrap up the No. 1 seed in the AFC and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
This is a different Patriots team though. And at 35, Brady is something of a different quarterback too. When he's forced to throw the ball all over the field now, New England usually loses.
The Golden Boy has thrown more than 40 passes four times this season and the Patriots are 1-3 in those games. They lost by two points to Arizona (at home), one point at Baltimore and one point at Seattle — and even the one 40-plus Brady throw game they won was only a three-point victory at home (over the Jets and the dysfunctional Mark Sanchez).
New England isn't just a more balanced offense this season with second-year running back Stevan Ridley by choice. There is necessity behind the switch too.
The Texans may be right to fear getting into back-and-forth, pass-happy affair with Brady considering the current state of Wade Phillips' secondary. Brice McCain is the latest cornerback to go down, out until at least the Super Bowl with a broken foot. All-pro cornerback Johnathan Joseph hasn't been cleared to play against the Patriots — though it's hard to imagine Joseph missing this game.
But Brady and the Patriots have injury issues of their own. Think Brady relishes the idea of having to carry New England against Phillips' Bulls On Parade defense with Julian Edelman on crutches and The Gronk (touchdown machine Rob Gronkowski) dealing with a broken forearm?
The Patriots are desperate enough to have just signed free agent receiver Donte Stallworth, who hasn't had a decent season since 2007.
Don't be so sure which offense would have a better chance in a wild game. The Texans are 2-0 this season when Matt Schaub's thrown more than 40 passes in game, having beaten the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions in back-to-back overtimes.
High scoring game . . . don't be so sure that's advantage New England.
This isn't the 50-touchdown pass Tom Brady. And it's not the skittish Matt Schaub of certain seasons past either.
The 31-year-old Schaub is in the midst of the season of his life and even his overall passing numbers are close to Brady's in the important stats in 2012. In touchdown passes, it's 25-21 Brady. Schaub has thrown nine interceptions to Brady's four. And passer rating is 102.6 to 94.5 Brady.
"We know what type of team we’re facing and the great player that we’re facing there," Kubiak said of Brady.
What's liable to be forgotten is the type of quarterback the Patriots are facing. High scoring game . . . don't be so sure that's advantage New England.
Not this year.