Oakland Raiders (1-2) vs. Houston Texans (1-2)
Sunday, October 4th, 2009
Kickoff Temperature: dome (retractable)
Line: Texans by 9
Trends: Texans lead all-time series, 3-1. Last meeting: Oakland 27, Houston 16 (in Oakland, 2008)
Three most important things for the Texans on defense:
1. No big plays. Oakland has not proven itself capable of methodically moving the football down the field for scoring drives. Houston is getting shredded through the air and they need to keep both Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy in front of them in the unlikely chance that Jamarcus Russell can actually get them the ball.
2. Slow down the run. Stopping the run may be too much to ask for a bad run defense, so the Texans need to at least slow it down. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush have been doing a solid job of running the football this season, and that's really the only legit threat of offense on this Raiders team.
3. Stop Zach Miller. Miller is one of Russell's favorite targets, and the Texans haven't really done a great job of covering opposing tight ends.
Three most important things for the Texans on offense:
1. No turnovers. A turnover last Sunday cost the Texans the game against Jacksonville, and seemingly the only way Oakland can score enough points to beat Houston is by getting short fields from turnovers.
2. Another receiver needs to step up. Andre Johnson will have his hands full with Nnamdi Asomugha, who could be the best corner in the game. If Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones play big as they did a week ago, Oakland likely won't have an answer for them.
3. Protect Schaub. Matt Schaub took a beating in the second half of last week's game and Oakland has a much better defensive line than the Jaguars. Houston must keep Schaub upright.
What to look for:
1. Look for Andre Johnson to struggle. Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the very best, and he may have what it takes to shut down 'Dre.
2. Look for three or more combined interceptions. Jamarcus will throw 'em to you, you have to catch the ball.
3. Look for a big special teams play. Johnnie Lee Higgins took one to the house against the Texans last year, and Jacoby Jones is capable of it.
4. Look for Steve Slaton to score. It's time for Slaton to get in the end zone.
5. Look for the Texans to even their record. Oakland is due for a blow-up, as their top-overall pick quarterback has simply been terrible. Houston will avenge last season's defeat and even their record at 2-2.