The Houston Texans come to Foxborough this weekend in what amounts to a virtual family reunion. So many members of the Houston coaching staff are either former Patriots players or coaches.
So much familiarity with the inner workings of Foxborough has many media anticipating how the Texans game plan against the Patriots on Sunday, and vice versa.
A CSNNE.com column asserts that Houston is in perfect position to slow down New England.
"The most sure way to slow down the Patriots offense is to have really good defensive players who can bring pressure and (this is the key) hoping the Patriots are banged up at wideout and can't do their usual damage in the middle of the field. That's your blueprint. And it's in place this week."
On ESPN's blog, there's an analytical piece suggesting Tom Brady and the Patriots offense need to focus on their own offensive line to find success versus the Texans.
"The goal is naturally to pressure Brady right up the middle. Don't let him step up. And by going right up the gut, it's the fastest way to get to him and affect the rhythm of the Patriots' passing game.
"This concept of utilizing players who are usually edge rushers on the inside isn't specific to the Texans, but they've arguably had the most success against Brady with it, mainly because [Jadeveon] Clowney and [Whitney] Mercilus are among the NFL's most talented edge rushers."
WEEI.com offers a column agreeing that the o-line is New England's biggest concern this week, particularly when it comes to the health of RT Marcus Cannon and the unit overall.
"Facing the high-powered Texans pass rush led by J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, the offensive line for the Patriots is certainly going to be tested.
Without Cannon, this would have either LaAdrian Waddle or Cameron Fleming start at right tackle and going on past experience, that isn't great news for the New England offense."
In the Houston Chronicle, you'll find a convenient breakdown of this Texans-Patriots matchup, while in the Boston Herald, the theme of Brady and Co. facing serious challenges from good defenses this season continues.
"Over the next three weeks, in fact, we'll get a much better idea about the offense, and how it might fare in the long run after bouts with the Texans, Panthers and Buccaneers," the writer explains.
"After the first two weeks of the season, those are the NFL's No. 8, No. 3 and No. 1 defenses, respectively, in yardage allowed per game. Against the pass, Carolina is No. 2, Tampa Bay No. 3 and Houston No. 8."
Elsewhere, Alan Branch's playing time is getting scrutinized this week, and he discussed it (sort of) with reporters yesterday.
"I don't know what they plan to do with me," said Branch. "I just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work."
*The Providence Journal *takes a look at safety Patrick Chung in his new side job as New England's punt returner in a pinch.
"No matter if I'm back there or not, I still practice it every day," Chung said Wednesday. "You can say it's like riding a bike, but I've been practicing riding a bike the whole season, so it is what it is."
Finally today, a Boston Globe feature focuses on Brady's claim (in his new book) that drinking lots more water is beneficial for people. You might be surprised by what the investigation contends.