Monday night's meeting between the New England Patriots and Houston Texans was prepackaged and sold a playoff preview -- possibly of the conference title game -- but one of these teams still has plenty of work to do.
"It doesn't feel like we have more wins than New England right now," Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips told the Houston Chronicle after his team's 42-14 meltdown. "... You let them get ahead of you like that, you're going to have problems."
When the Texans (11-2) were manhandled by the Green Bay Packers on national television earlier this season, it was a forgivable blip on the radar. An aberration. Houston's second loss raises unsettling questions. We all know about the battered defense. Injuries have taken a toll, and opponents are picking the Texans apart in the passing game, something New England (10-3) capitalized on early.
"Before we knew it, it was 21-0," Texans inside linebacker Bradie James said. "We had to settle down and get back to doing some things."
That never really happened for the Texans. Houston is struggling to do the things it did so well at the start of the year, and -- a problem for January -- they can't stop premier passers.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.