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Reliant Stadium Hosts First 2010 Texans-Titans Game on Sunday

The (4-6) Houston Texans will host the (5-5) Tennessee Titans on Sunday for what seems, again, to be a a good match-up for the Texans.  Barring a game here and there, the Texans’ opponents have been largely battered and injured for the last month.  From the Colts without Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai and Austin Collie to San Diego without Malcolm Floyd and Antonio Gates, the Houston Texans have managed to still lose when their opponents’ playmakers are out of the game.  This week will be a similar test.  Tennessee starting quarterback Vince Young was placed on the injured reserve this week and backup quarterback Kerry Collins is out at least another week with a calf injury.  That leaves the newly appointed starting quarterback Rusty Smith and signed-days-ago Chris Simms.  Smith has no history of Young and Collins’ heroic comeback efforts, and also Dunta Robinson isn’t here to give up the long ball.  And for the Texans’ secondary they will have the chance for the first time this year to exploit a rookie quarterback.  They’ll strive to maintain the same pressure the did against the Jets’ standout offensive line, but most of all it’ll take valiant effort to stop Chris Johnson, the Titans’ third year running back who only ran for 2,006 yards last season.

The Tennessee Titans’ run game poses a fatal threat to the Texans’ consistent and sometimes-impressive run defense.  While the Texans rank 31st overall in defense, anchored by the league-worst and historically competing worst pass secondary, their run defense ranks middle of the line (15th).  The Houston Texans have not allowed over 100 yards this season, and the only to backs to reach the century mark were Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew and Chiefs’ Thomas Jones.  Yet, Chris Johnson is a whole new kind of running back from what the Texans faced in LT (36 yards, 3 TDs), Ahmad Bradshaw (67 yards), Addai (44 yards), and Clinton Portis (33 yards, 2 TDs).

Johnson ran for over 100 yards in his past two games, largely due to the presence of wide receiver Randy Moss equaling more breathing room.  The only team defenses to hold Chris Johnson under 100 yards this season were Pittsburgh (34), Denver (53), Philadelphia (66) and San Diego (59).  The Texans defenses are far from these teams’ level of play.  Where last week the team glimpsed a spectacular defensive line effort, it could be possible for the Texans to put the Titans into many 3rd-and-longs and four-and-outs.  Pressuring rookie quarterback Rusty Smith, beating his reads and executing Frank Bush’s defense should let Texans fans know if Bush really has to go, or if these young corners really have no direction this season.

The Houston Texans’ 2010 offense is led by the triumphant steps of Arian Foster.  Foster has been the missing key for the Texans’ offense, and if it wasn’t for their horrid defense, he’ likely be in MVP talks.  Foster leads the league with 1004 rushing yards on the season, as well as leading the league in rushing touchdowns (12).  In fact he is the only running back with double digit rushing touchdowns.  The Titans’ run defense ranks 11th in the league, averaging 103.5 yards on the ground against them.  With a largely injured defensive line, and Jason Babin starting on the end, the Texans’ will be looking to smash the Titans’ front line.  Additionally, the Titans’ linebacker and secondary slip with inexperience.  Besides fallen-off Pro Bowler Chris Hope, overly-aggressive Cortland Finnergan, veterans Michael Griffin and Will Witherspoon, middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch tops the Titans’ defensive playmakers.  The Texans offensive line should be licking their chops to break off Foster with some holes on Sunday.

Matt Schaub hasn’t been relied on this season compared to last season’s throw-fest.  However, Schaub’s going against the 26th pass defense which has allowed Jason Campbell, Eli Manning, Kyle Orton, Tony Romo, Trent Edwards, Philip Rivers, Chad Henne, and Donovan McNabb to be the leading passers in their respective games.  Look for Schaub to open up his cast of receivers yet again this week.

For the Houston Texans to pull out a win at home on Sunday, they’ll have to play a smart and strategic game.  On offense, they’ll have to run and incorporate the short pass to keep the chains moving and Chris Johnson off the field.  On defense, they’ll have to get into Rusty Smith’s head and act as a solid unit to shut down Johnson.  The Titans will have to exploit the Texans’ weak secondary, and mix in a large amount of quick, short passes that always get the Texans’ rush defense out of line.  Then expect them to run Johnson home, most likely to the tune of 35+ touches.  The roof will be open, and this certainly enjoyed new cool front will be chilling the fans down in Houston on Sunday.

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