Kickoff can't come soon enough in one of the most highly anticipated "Monday Night Football" matchups of the season, as the Patriots continue their preparations for the Houston Texans.
The two teams share a common thread in their success this season, and Monday will be something of a measuring stick contest for each side. It will also be just the fourth time that these franchises have squared off since Houston entered the league in 2002.
In anticipation of the game, here's an overview of some connections between the Texans and the Patriots/New England area.
Kicker Shayne Graham. An injury to Stephen Gostkowski called Graham into duty for the Patriots in 2010, and the fill-in kicker came through when called upon. He connected on all 14 of his field goal attempts (although the long was just 41 yards), and stands as one of the most accurate kickers in league annals.
Defensive lineman Terrell McClain. The former South Florida product appeared in one game for the Patriots this season (16 snaps), versus the Bills on Sept. 30. He was signed Sept. 26 and released Oct. 3.
Senior personnel adviser Bobby Grier. Grier spent nearly two decades with the Patriots as a member of the personnel department, including three seasons as the vice president of player personnel (1997-1999). He has been with the Texans since the franchise's inception.
Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. Dennison is in his third season as a successful offensive coordinator for the Texans, and started his coaching career at Suffield Academy in Connecticut following his playing career in the NFL as a linebacker with the Broncos.
Special teams coordinator Joe Marciano. The veteran NFL coach was an assistant at the University of Rhode Island, coaching receivers, in 1978-79.