New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore not only deserves the Defensive Player of the Year Award, but he should also be the league’s MVP this season. This was the strong case presented by football analyst Chris Simms of NBC Sports, on Pro Football Talk, saying picking Gilmore as MVP is not popular considering the strong showing of quarterbacks Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. "He should probably be in the MVP discussion," said Simms, adding that Gilmore is a huge part of a Patriots defense that is doing historic things, only accomplished by the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Ravens things.

“He is a big part of that. He shuts down the No. 1 receiver every week,” Simms added.

This season, Gilmore has tallied 34 tackles, and four interceptions with 13 passes defended. He also returned an interception for his first pick-6 in their 43-0 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. Gilmore displayed his full potential when he held Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper catch-less in the Patriots 13-9 win of Week 12. Against the Houston Texans, Gilmore will be tested anew when he’s matched up with versatile receiver DeAndre Hopkins. However, Gilmore missed Wednesday’s practice due to an illness and is questionable for Sunday’s game. The Patriots (10-1) entered the week as a 3.5-point favorite over the Texans, who lead the AFC South with a 7-4 mark.

Patriots need another kicker in Week 13

For their game against the Texans, the Patriots will have to find a new kicker fast after veteran kicker Nick Folk underwent an appendectomy Thursday, according to Mike Petraglia of CLNS Media and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. So far this season, the Patriots have used Stephen Gostkowski, Mike Nugent, and Folk as kickers, and they have to find their fourth one ahead of their Sunday’s game against the Texans.

Gostkowski, the Patriots’ regular kicker, was placed on injured reserve after Week 4, forcing them to sign Nugent, who lasted just four games in New England. Folk had a fantastic start to his Patriots’ stint, but he missed two field goals against the Cowboys. Folk, who is 7-of-9 on field goals and 3-of-3 on the extra point, could return in Week 14.

The Patriots have no kicker on their special teams after they released Younghoe Koo, who later signed with the Atlanta Falcons. If they can’t sign a kicker on short notice, the Patriots could use punter/kickoff specialist Jake Bailey on extra points or short field goals.

Texans coach says Patriots, a well-coached squad

According to Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, facing the Patriots on Sunday will be a considerable challenge for the coaching staff and his players. “It’s a big challenge. They’re a very well-coached team, they don’t beat themselves, and defensively they’re doing such a great job in a lot of different areas,” said O’Brien. The Texans head coach is also wary about the Patriots’ offense, with veteran quarterback Tom Brady at the helm.

The Patriots have a massive advantage over the Texans in their head-to-head matchup, winning 10 of their 11 clashes, but New England head coach Bill Belichick said they would be facing a different Houston squad on Sunday.