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Belichick expects changes from Pats rout of Texans

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Belichick expects changes from Pats rout of Texans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) A regular-season rout can be a poor predictor of the postseason rematch.

Coach Bill Belichick has another chance to 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 next Sunday to the field where they flopped. The winner of the divisional-round matchup goes to the AFC championship game.

``The game that we play now doesn't have much to do with the game we played before,'' Belichick said Sunday, one day after the Texans advanced with a 19-13 wild-card win over the Cincinnati Bengals

Two years ago, the Patriots beat the New York Jets 45-3 in the 12th game of the season. Just six weeks later, the Patriots had the NFL's best record but lost to the Jets 28-21 in a divisional game.

It's a history lesson Belichick is sure to review this week.

``I don't think it's anything that wasn't mentioned until that situation occurred, but it's an example we can point out,'' he said in a conference call during a break from preparing for the Texans. ``We talked about that many times before, how other games don't have anything to do with this game. It stands on its own.

``That is and always will be the case, but it's an example to point out of how little relevance the previous game with the same team really does have.''

The Texans had the league's top mark when the ball was kicked off to start their game at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 10. But less than six minutes into the second quarter, they trailed 28-0 after Tom Brady's fourth touchdown pass.

That gap grew to 42-7 midway through the fourth quarter, with Arian Foster's 1-yard run the only touchdown until backup quarterback T.J. Yates ran in from 1 yard with two minutes left.

That began a stretch of three losses in four games before the Texans did just enough to beat the Bengals.

The Patriots held Foster to 46 yards rushing, his fourth-lowest output in a season in which he averaged 89 yards per game.

The real Foster is more like the one who ran a season-high 32 times for 140 yards and the game's only offensive touchdown against the Bengals. That made him the first NFL player to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first three playoff games.

``There's no question that he's the key guy for Houston and their offense, but his production also complements the other players as well and the other parts of the game,'' Belichick said. ``Yesterday I thought he made a decent amount of yardage breaking tackles and making the defender miss a tackle in the hole or that kind of thing.''

Starting tackle Derek Newton, tight end Garrett Graham and linebacker Brooks Reed played against the Bengals after missing the first game against the Patriots.

``We were pretty sure that Reed wasn't going to get in the game, but all the rest of them we prepared for,'' Belichick said, ``the ones that were able to play played and the others (who) didn't. It's kind of the same thing this time. They have a couple guys that are out, but they added a couple of new players as well so we have to be ready for all of them.''

One of the Patriots' most important players missed that opening meeting. But tight end Rob Gronkowski returned from a five-game absence after breaking his left forearm and had a touchdown catch in the 28-0 win over the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season finale.

Belichick expects many more changes than just the personnel.

``When you play a team twice during the season, the games are totally different. They never go the same way,'' he said. ``We'll be able to certainly look at some of the matchups individually, guys that faced each (other) in the game. As far as plays and calls and things like that matching up, I'm sure they'll have some new wrinkles. I'm sure we'll have some, too. It will be totally different.''

The coaching staff prepared last week for all three potential opponents.

But when Houston won on Saturday, Belichick and his staff didn't have to wait for the Baltimore Ravens to beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 on Sunday to determine the opponent.

The Texans were coming back.

``We spent a significant amount of time on them last week,'' Belichick said.

Now they have more to analyze from Saturday's victory.

``They had a couple pieces that were specific for Cincinnati, not revolutionary,'' he said. ``There are some good examples of things we can learn (from) that game, but, ultimately, our game, our matchups are different (from) theirs and will be different from the first game.''

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Nationals-Phillies postponed on Monday night

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Nationals-Phillies postponed on Monday night

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper came back to the District on Monday. No baseball was played.

Rain storms cycled through the DMV starting around 6 p.m. at first delaying the series-opening game between the Nationals and Phillies, before it was finally postponed at 10 p.m. The game will be made up as part of a split-doubleheader on Wednesday. The first game is at 1:05 p.m., the second at 7:05 p.m.

The Tuesday starters for both teams remain the same: Patrick Corbin for the Nationals and Jake Arrieta for the Phillies.

Washington will need an extra starter during the week because it is playing seven games in six days. For instance, the Nationals could call someone up to pitch the first game Wednesday, and have Max Scherzer pitch on regular rest Wednesday night. The doubleheader being played Wednesday instead of Tuesday allows the Nationals plenty of time to import a starter for the day, if they choose to do it then.

However, Tuesday’s forecast is also rain-filled. Stay tuned.

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The Capitals were mentioned on Jeopardy! and of course we're proud of it

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The Capitals were mentioned on Jeopardy! and of course we're proud of it

The Stanley Cup no longer resides in Washington, and all eyes have shifted toward the offseason as the Capitals look to retool for next season. But, that doesn't mean we can't stop and appreciate the magical 2018 season now and again.

A week after reminiscing about the championship run and ensuing parade, the famous game show "Jeopardy!" gave us one more moment of glory on Monday night.

One of the clues featured in the latest episode had the Capitals as the answer and even featured Alexander Ovechkin.

It appears that one of the contestants did answer it correctly. More importantly, according to the replies, it was also cleared up that no one brought up the Pittsburgh Penguins during that round. 

While it may be somewhat hard to cope with the fact that the Capitals will not be enjoying another offseason of championship partying in 2019 we can take pride in the fact that the question was about the Caps winning the Stanley Cup, and not centered around a dreaded title drought.

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