Where the Patriots show cracks

Texans' pass rush, dinged-up New England secondary present challenges

Originally Published: January 11, 2013
By Field Yates | ESPN Insider
Arian FosterStew Milne/US PresswireAs a receiver, Arian Foster could be a matchup problem for the Pats' linebackers.

The narrative that the New England Patriots are an imbalanced team with a strong offense making up for a porous defense is one that can be pretty easily dismissed; after all, the Patriots were one of five teams to finish the 2012 season within the top 10 of both scoring offense (first) and scoring defense (ninth).

But although the Patriots are solid on both sides of the football, they are not a team without limitations. They were pushed to the limit this season by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, and they were defeated by the Arizona Cardinals back in Week 2.

At their best, the Patriots might be the top team in football, and they'll have a chance to showcase that starting this Sunday against the Houston Texans. But their weaknesses are not to be overlooked, and no doubt Houston will try to exploit several of them when the teams clash.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.