Patriots ignoring 16-point line as playoff tilt with Houston approaches

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (WHDH) - Thanks to a strong leadership core, the New England Patriots are on the cusp of making a 6th straight appearance in the AFC Championship game. Only the Houston Texans stand in their way.

The eight-time defending AFC East champions are in a familiar position that they don’t take lightly.

“You know there is no next week right now, so we got to try to play our best game for Saturday,” Devin McCourty said.

When the Patriots take the field at Gillette Stadium Saturday, they will look to defeat the Houston Texans for a second time this season.

The team’s success is something players are not taking for granted. 

“I’m excited about the opportunity you know to play in another playoff game. You know a lot of players don’t get this opportunity over the course of their careers,” Matthew Slater said.

The Patriots are embracing the opportunity, but they are also mindful that nothing is guaranteed, even as a 16-point favorite to win.

“You all don’t have anything to do with the game so you know what you all think doesn’t really matter,” Dont’a Hightower said when asked about being heavy favorites.

“Regardless of what odds say, or who’s favored, this that and the other, that means nothing to us, we have to go out and play this game cause we know they’ll be ready,” Slater added.

Texans head coach, Bill O’Brien, spent 5 years as an assistant in New England. He believes the Patriots have the ultimate leader and teacher in Bill Belichick.

“It is a little bit of a classroom, especially when you’re working for him, there’s a lot you can learn,” O’Brien said. “You can learn about obviously x’s and o’s, but I think it goes a lot deeper than x’s and o’s.”

The Patriots crushed the Texans 27-0 back in September with Tom Brady out of the lineup. Saturday’s contest kicks off at 8:15 p.m.

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