The 7-4 Philadelphia Eagles face the 5-6 Houston Texans in a prime time Thursday night matchup on the NFL Network. To learn a little more about the Texans, we spoke with Tim from the great Texans community Battle Red Blog. You can find my responses to his questions over there.
I always take a quick look at the offensive and defensive rankings to see if anything jumps out about the next week's opponent. Obviously for the Texans it's the pass defense. Is it as bad as it looks?
BRB: No, it's not as bad as it looks. It's worse. The numbers don't do the futility justice on their own, so one of our writers has been keeping track of the 2010 Houston defense from a historical perspective. The secondary is truly as bad as anything you'll ever see; every DB has taken his turn in the barrel, and any one of them is capable of getting torched by the Eagles. I'd better move on to the next question before I start pounding Clorox and chasing it with Windex.
The Texans had a solid start to the season, but since the bye the wheels have seemed to come off. What do you attribute that to?
BRB: Until last week's surprising shutout, the Texans defense had not held any opponent to under 24 points this season, so I don't think it's entirely fair to say the wheels were screwed on tight before the bye week. In terms of the offense, there have been instances where it's seemed like Gary Kubiak and/or Rick Dennison have failed to utilize Arian Foster as much as they could have. Additionally, there's the schedule itself. Since the bye, Houston played at Indianapolis, hosted the Chargers, traveled to Jacksonville, and tangled with the Jets in New Jersey before hosting the Titans last week. In all likelihood, that's a run of playing three AFC playoff teams, two of which were on the road; that's nothing to sneeze at. Finally, and perhaps most disturbingly, the Texans have suffered through some amazingly bad bounces. A ball bouncing off Andre Johnson's knee into the arms of Paul Oliver in the red zone on what would have been a potentially game-winning drive. The ridiculous misplaced bat-down by Glover Quin on the Hail Mary in Jacksonville. The Jets marching 72 yards in 49 seconds, with no timeouts left, to score a game-winning touchdown after the Texans scored 20 unanswered points to take the lead. Those things happened over the course of three consecutive weeks. What are the odds?
That is actually some amazingly bad luck and a hell of a tough schedule.
The line on this game started with the Eagles favored by seven. It's now jumped up to as high as 9.5. Do you think that's a fair assessment of the gap between these two teams or will this game be much closer?
BRB: Given that we're talking about the Texans playing the Eagles, in Philadelphia, in December, at night...I have absolutely no problem with the line. While it's possible the Texans' offense scores enough to stay in the game, and it's not outside the realm of possibility they shock us all, let me put it this way: I wouldn't take the Texans at +7 or even +9.5.
How much of an effect do you think the absurdly short week plus a cross country flight will have on the Texans. I imagine you guys have to be a bit miffed at the schedule makers?
BRB: It could be worse, I guess; at least Houston was home last weekend, and Philly is closer than, say, Buffalo. It surely gives the Eagles an advantage, but it's not like you guys are coming off a bye; you played last Sunday, too. Besides, looking ahead, playing Thursday night does give the Texans extra time to rest before the Ravens come to town for Monday Night Football on December 13th.
What Texan who we might not have heard of before Thursday night is going to surprise us?
BRB: Fantasy football owners know all about what kind of season Arian Foster is having, so he hardly qualifies as a surprise. Still, even if you've been keeping up with his stats, he's a treat to watch play live; his vision and balance are incredible. In terms of a guy you may not have heard of, keep an eye out for Joel Dreessen. He's done a fine job filling in for Owen Daniels, and Matt Schaub seems comfortable going to him. The tight end can play a big role in Houston's offense, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Dreessen get his share of targets tomorrow night.
I have no doubt Joel Dreesen will have a career night.