Matt Schaub bounced back after a tough start to last season to command the NFL’s third-ranked offense. The questions about Schaub are not so much about his ability to play at a high level, but more about his ability to suit up for 16 games. Schaub had a career performance in the Texans 34-31 victory over the Titans, then followed it up with a great performance in a loss against the Jaguars.
Jamarcus Russell has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career, and he's regressing in 2009. Russell is barely completing 40% of his throws, and it would appear as if the team isn't sure whether or not he's the answer.
Houston features last season’s super rookie, Steve Slaton, who may have been the best first-year running back in the game. Slaton has struggled running the ball this season, but played well last week. Behind Slaton is oft-injured veteran Chris Brown, Ryan Moats, and fullback Vonta Leach.
The Raiders have a loaded backfield in Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, and Justin Fargas. The Raiders trio may be the best set of running backs in the game in terms of depth.
Perhaps the most talented position group on the team, the Texans boast Pro Bowler Andre Johnson, who could be the very best wideout in the game. To compliment Johnson, Houston has Kevin Walter who has a knack for finding the end zone, and slot-machine David Anderson. Throw in Jacoby Jones and Andre Davis and the Texans are loaded.
The Raiders have a speedy, yet inexperienced set of receivers led by rookie Louis Murphy, who looks better than first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey. Johnnie Lee Higgins is the Raiders third option, but he hasn't caught a pass yet this year.
Houston may have the most tight end depth in the league, as Pro Bowler Owen Daniels appears to be in great shape and focused. The Texans drafted blocking end Anthony Hill and do-everything guy James Casey, and veteran Joel Dreesen could be a contributor.
Oakland has an underrated star in Zach Miller, and he is one of Russell's primary targets. Tony Stewart and Brandon Myers aren't involved much in the passing game.
We believe this group has the potential to be the best offensive line in franchise history. There is a question of whether or not 2008 first-round pick Duane Brown will be able to be an effective full-time left tackle, but we feel confident in his abilities.
The Raiders have an underrated line which excels in run blocking. When Robert Gallery and Khalif Barnes return, this should be a much better line.
Houston may have the best end in the game in Mario Williams, and free agent acquisition Antonio Smith should have a big year because of Williams. Add in second-round pick Connor Barwin and the Texans have their best group of pass rushers in team history. On the inside, Amobi Okoye is looking to bounce back from an injury-filled 2008 campaign. The team acquired former Lion Shaun Cody to go along with Tim Bulman, Frank Okam and DelJuan Robinson.
The Raiders defensive line is a loaded group, even if nobody knows it. Richard Seymour and Greg Ellis are very good pass rushing ends. Tommy Kelly and Gerard Warren are the weak links in the middle, and they aren't bad.
Houston seemingly has more talented linebackers than spots for them as they have star MLB DeMeco Ryans, along with first-round pick Brian Cushing. Zac Diles, coming off a broken leg, has assumed the other outside spot and Xavier Adibi was impressive last year as a rookie and will serve as depth.
The Raiders linebacking corps is led by tackling-machine Kirk Morrison in the middle, along with the speedy Thomas Howard and Ricky Brown on the outsides.
The Texans secondary has been terrible thus far this season. Dunta Robinson is the best corner the team has, but he hasn't played all that well after missing all of training camp and preseason. Fred Bennett is currently starting opposite Robinson, thanks to Jacques Reeves leg injury. Brice McCain had a solid preseason and Antwaun Molden or rookie Glover Quin could play dime.
The cornerback position is certainly an area of strength, as the Raiders boast Pro Bowl corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Opposite Asomugha is the often picked on Chris Johnson, and filling in is Stanford Routt and John Bowie.
The Houston safeties are possibly the weakest position group on the team as the expected starters are Eugene Wilson and Nick Ferguson. Dominique Barber will compete for playing time along with Jon Busing.
Lining up at the safety positions for Oakland are former first-round pick Michael Huff, and rookie Tyvon Branch. Behind those two are rookie Michael Mitchell and Hiram Eugene.
The Texans special teams specialists are very good as Kris Brown is one of the league’s most accurate kickers, and Matt Turk has a booming leg. Jacoby Jones handles kickoff and punt duties, and is explosive doing so.
Oakland has strong-legged Sebastian Janikowski at kicker, and Pro Bowler Shane Lechler as their punter. Johnnie Lee Higgins earns his paychecks handling both kickoff and punt returns.