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Patriots vs. Texans: Pregame notes; Inactives

The New England Patriots (9-4) take on the Houston Texans (4-9) at Gillette Stadium.  The following are pregame notes and player inactives.

No. Player Pos.
14 Vinny Testaverde 3QB
32 Rashad Baker S
37 Rodney Harrison S
39 Laurence Maroney RB
52 Eric Alexander LB
68 Ryan O'Callaghan OT
75 Vince Wilfork NT
84 Benjamin Watson TE
No. Player Pos.
5 Quinton Porter 3QB
13 Jerome Mathis WR
24 C.C. Brown FS
35 Samkon Gado RB
51 DaShon Polk LB
62 Scott Jackson T
78 Cedric Killings DT
86 Derrick Lewis WR


Safety Guss Scott(29) has been signed from the Patriots practice squad and will be active for today's game.

PLAYOFF SCENARIOThe Patriots can clinch the 2006 AFC East championship and a berth in the playoffs with a victory over the Texans at Gillette Stadium today and a New York Jets loss or tie to the Minnesota Vikings on the road. The Patriots can also clinch the division if their game against the Texans ends in a tie and the Jets lose at Minnesota. The Patriots have won a franchise-record three straight AFC East titles and have won four of the last five division crowns dating back to 2001. New England has won six division titles in the 12 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 and has led the NFL over that span with 139 total victories, 13 playoff wins, four conference championships and three Super Bowl titles. The Patriots have won nine division crowns in their 46-year history.

When the calendar turns to the 12th month, the New England weather may turn cold, but in recent years the Patriots have remained red hot. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the Patriots have recorded a 20-6 (.769) record in games played in the month of December. New England has won 13 of its last 15 games in the month of December - a streak that dates back to 2002.

FIRST-TIME VISITORSThe Houston Texans will make their first visit to Gillette Stadium today, becoming the 25th different opponent to travel to the Patriots' state-of-the-art facility for a regular-season or playoff game. New England holds an all-time record of 20-4 against firsttime visitors to Gillette Stadium and have won 16 of its last 17 games against teams making their inaugural appearance there. The Texans are the final AFC team to play their first game at Gillette Stadium - following this week's game, only six NFC clubs (listed below) have not yet appeared at Gillette Stadium.

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