By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles head to Houston to take on the Houston Texans in NRG Stadium Sunday, November 2. The Eagles will be looking to get back in the win column after losing in Arizona, and the Texans will be looking for a second straight win after a victory in Tennessee.READ MORE: Caught On Camera: 62-Year-Old Man Violently Carjacked By Group Of Teenagers In Olney
The Texans snapped a three-game losing streak last weekend with a 30-16 victory on the road against AFC South rival Tennessee. The Texans had lost three close games leading up to that, all by a single score. At 4-4, Houston is just one game behind the AFC South leaders, the Indianapolis Colts.
The Eagles are 3-0 al-time against the Texans, dating back to 2002. The last time Philadelphia played in Houston was 2006, with the Eagles picking up a 24-10 victory. Donovan McNabb had three touchdowns and 314 passing yards and Brian Westbrook accounted for 132 total yards from scrimmage in the win.
Philadelphia is 4-0 all-time in the city of Houston, including three wins against the Houston Oilers, who went on to move to Nashville to become the Tennessee Titans.
Texans on Offense
Bill O’Brien is known for his work with quarterbacks, but the Houston passing game has not done much of anything this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick is likely a short-term solution before O’Brien can handpick his own quarterback through the NFL Draft in 2015 (Houston did draft Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage in the fourth round of the 2014 draft). Houston’s passing game is ranked 26th in the NFL, but the running game has been leading the way. Arian Foster has rushed for 766 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season and will continue to be the main threat against the Eagles defense.
Texans on DefenseREAD MORE: WATCH LIVE: Officer Hit By Gunfire At Parkway On July 4 To Be Acknowledged At Montgomery County Commissioners Meeting
Houston has proven to be vulnerable through the air, which is something Philadelphia should look to do frequently. Houston has allowed an average of 271.4 passing yards per game, which ranks 28th in the NFL. Chip Kelly will make note that sometimes this stat can be misleading though, as teams tend to take to the air when trailing. Houston has been playing with the lead often enough to lead to that trend continuing. The Texans are bête against the run too, and the defensive line features one of the best players in the league, defensive end J.J. Watt. The linebackers are also a force to be reckoned with Brian Cushing in the middle and rookie Jadeveon Clowney getting situated on the outside. The Texans can tackle and will make it difficult to break many plays in the middle of the field with their 3-4 set-up.
Texans Players to Watch
Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver: Not that long ago Houston’s Andre Johnson was considered the best receiver in the NFL, or at least one of them. Now in his 12th season, Johnson is still going string but is starting to show some signs of decline. He is still on track for a 1,000-yard season, but his projected total is likely to drop for a second straight season. He has just one touchdown this season, but against the Eagles secondary Johnson is still a lethal threat.
Brian Cushing, Linebacker: It will not be long before a healthy Jadeveon Clowney takes over the lead role in the Houston defense, and everybody knows about J.J. Watt’s impact. It can be easy to forget just how valuable Brian Cushing can be to the Texans defense as well. The sixth year player out of USC is on track for a 100-tackle season, although he has played through a knee injury lately.
The Texans are 2-1 at home this season and have proven to be tough to play in Houston. In their last home game, against the Indianapolis Colts, the Texans fell behind 24-0 in the first quarter before starting to come back and nearly pulling off a miracle win. If nothing else, Bill O’Brien’s team is not going to quit in any situation, and that will put Chip Kelly’s team to the test.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.