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MNF - Texans at Patriots

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The Patriots and Texans may square off in the AFC Championship, but the two teams have plenty to prove when they meet up on Monday night at Gillette Stadium. Houston has compiled the best record in the AFC at 11-1, while New England is vying for the second seed along with Denver and Baltimore. The Pats own the tiebreaker over the Broncos, but have lost to the Ravens and need to beat the Texans for a shot at home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Houston's only loss this season came to Green Bay in Week 6, which is great for tiebreaker purposes as the Texans are 9-0 inside the AFC. The latest triumph came in a 24-10 victory at Tennessee last Sunday as seven-point favorites, the sixth straight win for Gary Kubiak's club. Matt Schaub tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the opening quarter as the Texans cruised to a season sweep of the Titans for the first time since 2004.

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New England has also won six consecutive contests following a 23-16 victory at Miami last Sunday. The Dolphins picked up a backdoor cover on a late field goal in order to set up an onside kick, but the Patriots recovered the kick and ran the clock out, much to the chagrin of those holding New England -8 tickets. The result also snapped a nine-game 'over' streak for the Pats, as the contest easily finished 'under' the total of 51. For just the third time in 12 games, Bill Belichick's squad scored 24 points or less this season.

The Patriots are 4-1 to the 'over' at Gillette Stadium, as the lone 'under' came in the home opening loss to the Cardinals in Week 2. Arizona held New England to a season-low 18 points, but the Pats have scored an average of 39 points per game in the last four home contests (all victories). Three of New England's five ATS losses have come as double-digit 'chalk,' while going 4-1 ATS as a favorite of less than seven points.

The Texans are listed as an underdog for just the second time this season, as Houston took care of Chicago, 13-6 in Week 10. Houston cashed as one-point 'dogs, improving to 5-0-1 ATS the last six opportunities when receiving points since Week 7 of last season. Since starting the season at 4-0 ATS, the Texans have cashed just three of their previous seven games, including non-covers in road wins over the Lions and Jets.

Houston and New England are meeting for the fourth time ever, as the Texans beat the Patriots, 34-27 in Week 17 of the 2009 season. Wes Welker tore his ACL in that loss for New England, who was eliminated the next week in the Wild Card round against Baltimore. The Texans are traveling to Foxboro for the first time since December 2006, when New England ripped Houston, 40-7 as 13-point favorites.

This is the sixth instance in which the Texans are playing on a Monday night in franchise history, as Houston has put together a 2-5 SU and 1-4 ATS record. Houston failed to cover in a Week 5 victory over the Jets as 9 ½-point favorites, 23-17 on Monday night.

Under Belichick, the Patriots have been golden in Monday nighters by winning 10 of the last 11 dating back to Week 16 of 2005. New England has covered eight times in this span, while posting a 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS record in Foxboro. In the three home covers, the Patriots held opponents to seven points or less. Amazingly, this is the first Monday night appearance for New England this season.

The underdog/'under' combination cashed for the sixth time on Monday night this season last week, as the Redskins stunned the Giants, 17-16. The 'under' is 9-5 on Mondays, including five of the last seven weeks. Favorites own a 4-2 ATS record the past six weeks, while single-digit home 'chalk' is 4-2 ATS on Mondays in 2012.

The Patriots are listed as 3 ½-point favorites on Monday, as the total is set at 51. The game can be seen nationally on ESPN and kicks off at 8:30 PM EST.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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