How much, if any, does the thrashing that New England laid down on Houston in Week 14 affect Sunday's game?
Jason: In my mind, the win a month ago means almost nothing. Zilch. Nada. If anything, it could provide incentive for a proud Houston squad to show that they aren't the same team that the Patriots curb-stomped a few weeks back. Despite what some in the media seem to think, this is not a gimme.
Raj: It does play a huge role in the way we look at this game. Surely you might be thinking "well if the Pats can do it once, surely they can do it again!" That of course, isn't out of the possibility considering the Bengals gave them a tough fight. But look for Houston to come in with a completely different attitude. They're going to be looking at the first meeting's tape for sure so in my opinion, we won't see a blowout however I think New England still owns the edge. The blowout in week 14 was cool but the improvements Houston makes just from reviewing that film will make the game ever so more interesting.
Stephen: Other teams might let the win get in their heads, but I think the Patriots approach Sunday's game with the same preparation, intensity and crispness that they displayed in Week 14. New England has already shown it can exploit Houston's holes, and not much has changed since then. In fact, having a healthier Gronkowski, Chandler Jones and Pat Chung can only help the Pats in the rematch. Houston shouldn't lack motivation, but that doesn't change the fact they're a team that isn't built to come from behind.
Derek: The only way I see the Week 14 beating giving the Pats any type of advantage would be if New England was able to jump out to a big lead early. If they were able to mount a 14-0 lead, or something to that effect, then I could see the Texans becoming demoralized and losing some of their will to fight back. Otherwise, I feel that the game will have little to no impact. I'm not worried about the Patriots being complacent or thinking they've won this game before they step on the field. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will have none of that.