Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/7/12

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots makes a recpetion against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Ravens won 33-14. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Texans have one of the best defenses in football, which normally wouldn’t be that big of a problem for the NFL’s highest scoring offense. But with both Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman unavailable for Monday’s game — and Edelman done for the season, in fact — the Patriots could be in some trouble. Tom Brady is down two of his favorite targets, and to make matters worse, he’ll have to deal with J.J. Watt and an extremely aggressive Texans pass rush on Monday night. Even without his full offensive arsenal, though, Brady did get an old friend back this week. Donte Stallworth, who was with the Patriots in 2007 and again in training camp earlier this year, re-signed with the team earlier in the week and figures to fill Edelman’s void in the offense. At 32 years old, he’s not quite as dynamic a playmaker as he once was, or as Edelman has proven to be in recent weeks, but Stallworth knows the system well and is working hard to catch up by Monday’s kickoff. While there are plenty of questions remaining on offense, the defense has looked surprisingly stout of late. The Patriots have allowed just under 20 points per game over their last three contests, and the addition of Aqib Talib in the secondary has worked wonders so far. With Talib strengthening one side of the field, rookie Alfonzo Dennard has made great strides, and even Kyle Arrington looks good working out of the slot. Talib has definitely taken a lot of pressure off the secondary, but he hasn’t exactly been flawless since debuting for New England three weeks ago. And with one of the NFL’s elite receivers in Andre Johnson coming to Gillette Stadium this week, Talib will have to be at his best. Up front, Vince Wilfork and the defensive line also have a tough task ahead. Arian Foster has developed into one of the best running backs in football, and Matt Schaub continues to seem comfortable and confident in the pocket on a weekly basis. The Patriots line needs to disrupt both Foster and Schaub’s rhythm in order to keep Houston from controlling the clock and pounding the secondary. With so many variables on the table, which Patriots player do you think will be most vital to a win on Monday night? Take Our Poll
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rory McIlroy suffered injury in soccer game with friends

Jason Kidd to be named general manager of Bucks

USWNT romps Japan 5-2 to win third Women's World Cup title

Report: JPP 'severely injured' hand in fireworks mishap

Blatter: European politicians helped Qatar land World Cup

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Cavs considering trading for Joe Johnson

Andrew Quarless found hiding in plant after firing gun

Odell Beckham: I don't want to be known only for 'the catch'

Borland on retirement: Health 'more important' than money

Three NBA teams that improved most early in offseason

Adam Eaton gets 4th of July surprise from brother

MLB teams who will continue to disappoint in the second half

2015 All-Star starters announced, featuring four Royals

WATCH: Jake Marisnick makes fantastic running catch

WATCH: Carlos Gomez leaves gum, note for Billy Hamilton

Kansas to wear new USA jerseys after request from FIBA

What can the Saints expect from CJ Spiller in 2015?

Isaiah Thomas trolls Kings after Rajon Rondo signing

Kosta Koufos agrees to deal with Kings

Report: Blues in trade talks about Kevin Shattenirk

Report: Gregg Popovich plans to fulfill five-year contract

4-Star LB commits to Kentucky, zings Louisville

Clay Buchholz not worried about trade rumors

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

2015 All-Star starters announced

JPP injured in fireworks mishap?

Odell Beckham doesn't want to be known for 'the catch'

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.