Six Things to Watch: Raiders Edition
Patrick D. Starr
The Houston Texans are on a mission this Sunday to get their fourth win of the season against an upstart Oakland Raiders team. The Texans will be tested by an "inspired" Raiders team, after the unfortunate news of the passing of their owner and Hall of Famer, Al Davis. Times like these make games seem secondary, but the game must still be played.
Here are six things to watch for Sunday's contest.
1. The Oakland Raiders will be on a mission to play for their owner and the symbol of their franchise, Al Davis. Expect a motivated and inspired Raiders' team leaving it "all" out on the field for their owner. The Texans better be prepared from the first whistle to weather an early storm for a heart-broken franchise.
2. The Texans will be tested for the first time this season on the ground with a potent running game that the Oakland Raiders have. The defense will have their hands full with the tough running Darren McFadden who already has 468 yards rushing and three touchdowns and he averages 6.2 yarrds a carry. His big play ability will be on showcase against an untested front 7 for the Texans, McFadden has 7 runs over 20 plus yards. This will be a good time for the Texans defense to show they can be complete defense by slowing down McFadden.
3. The Texans' offense is going to have to take to the air against a questionable Raiders secondary. There seems to be an issues throughout the secondary especially in the safety positions with Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff. Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones will need to put pressure on the Raiders secondary early and often.
4. The Texans are going to have to keep the big play under control, which they have done well up to this point of the season. With the speed of Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey the pressure will fall on Kareem Jackson and Jason Allen, who are not the fastest, to keep up with these long ball threats. Even though the Raiders wide receivers are a bit undersized, expect Jason Campbell to push the ball down field to catch the Texans sleeping.
5. If there is any time for Matt Schaub to take the step as a quarterback the time is now. It is times like these where he can shoulder the burden of not having Andre Johnson, and prove they are capable of winning without Johnson. Schaub has been consistent this season and is completing over 65% of his pass attempts and has 7 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. This is a opprotuninty for Schaub to be the leader of the Texans and prove that he is worthy of being a captain for the Texans.
6. Triangle of Terror- This has to do with the nose tackles, Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell, and the inside linebackers, Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans, and them controlling the Raiders run game. The four of them will have to be exceptional against the run game to take the Raiders out of their comfort zone. The necessity to control the line of scrimmage starts with Cody and Mitchell and their ability to cause disruptions will be huge in the Texans defensive game plan. Cushing and Ryans will have to be active sideline to sideline and make life miserable for McFadden and company. If they can slow the run game down, the Texans defense can pin their ears back and get after Jason Campbell.