FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A regular-season rout can be a poor predictor of the postseason rematch.
Coach Bill Belichick can remind his New England Patriots of that less than a month after their 42-14 romp that shoved the Houston Texans into their late-season plunge.
The stakes will be much higher when the Texans return Sunday to Gillette Stadium. The winner in the divisional-round game goes to the AFC championship game.
Belichick said Sunday the first meeting has little to do with the next one. He learned on Saturday night who the Patriots would be facing when the Texans beat the Cincinnati Bengals 19-13 in a wild-card game. Had the Texans lost, the Patriots would have played the Baltimore Ravens, who beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 on Sunday.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL