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12-09-2006, 06:07 PM

What to Expect
When the Texans have the ball…
The Texans are redefining the term "running back by committee". Last week, Ron Dayne saw his first action in four games and had his best performance of the season with 95 yards on 18 carries. Despite the outburst, Kubiak declared that Wali Lundy would remain the starter this week, but Dayne will certainly see his share of the carries. There should be plenty of them to go around considering the Titans run defense ranks 30th in the NFL and the Texans tagged them for 148 yards on the ground in their first meeting. Kubiak has also stated that the poor pass protection due to numerous injuries to the offensive line will dictate that he call for more running plays.

David Carr’s career as the QB in Houston is in critical condition. Last week, he fumbled the ball twice and connected on only 7 of 14 attempts for 32 yards. Twelve games into the 2006 season, he still remains a question mark under center and Gary Kubiak’s patience with his high-profile pupil has to be running thin. After throwing nine TD’s and four INT’s in his first six outings, Carr has only one TD pass to go with three interceptions over his last six games. Whether Carr admits it or not, the last four games of the season are his final chances to prove to the Texans that he is their future at QB. Kubiak can’t afford to roll with Carr next year if he doesn’t show significant improvement starting this week.

He should start by targeting Andre Johnson as frequently as possible. AJ leads the NFL in receptions with 85 and is fifth in yardage with 991. He caught only one pass for nine yards against the Raiders, so look for him to bounce back this week. TE Owen Daniels should also see his production return after being shut out for the first time in eight games last week. He bulldozed his way to paydirt twice against the Titans earlier this season and had 9 catches for 99 yards, all career highs.

When the Titans have the ball…
Offensively, the Titans rely heavily on their ground game. They rank fifth in the NFL in rushing and are led by Travis Henry who has 849 yards and five TD’s in the ten games he has participated this season. He has four 100-yard efforts on the year including two in his last four games. The Texans run defense did a good job of bottling him up to the tune 29 yards on 15 carries in their first meeting, but couldn’t contain Young when it counted. VY lead the team in rushing for the game with 44 yards on four carries and a touchdown. More recently, he has picked up the pace in regards to his rushing attempts; in his last two games he has run the ball 19 times for 147 yards and one TD. He is most lethal when he takes off on third down when he has racked up 146 of his 372 rushing yards on the season.

Offensive coordinator Norm Chow has started to open up the passing game for his rookie signal caller. In the past two games, Young has attempted 60 passes and rewarded his coach by connecting on 39 of them for a 65% completion rate. He has also 13 completions of 20-plus yards in his last five games, as opposed to only eight in his first six. He is starting to look for his wide receivers more often and Bobby Wade has been his favorite target of late who has been the recipient of 8 receptions for 119 yards over the last three games. Drew Bennett leads the team in receptions but has caught only five balls in the last three games.


12-09-2006, 07:05 PM
Three Keys to Victory
1. Sweep the leg
In the immortal words of the Cobra Kai Sensei from “Karate Kid”, “Sweep the leg.” That would be Vince Young’s leg in this case. During the Titans' current three game winning streak, VY has rushed for 196 yards on 25 carries, for a 7.9 per carry average. He has also scampered for 22 first downs and pitched in with four rushing touchdowns. The Texans defense would be better served taking their chances with his arm rather than his legs, but the key will be to keep him contained within the pocket. An assist from David Carr and the offense would go a long way towards forcing him to throw, but based on recent offensive trends it seem highly unlikely.

2. Don't turn the ball over
This facet of the game proved to be the Texans undoing in their first meeting with the Titans. They ended the game with five turnovers as opposed to none by the Titans. David Carr threw an interception into quadruple coverage and coughed up two other fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Carr had trouble holding onto the ball once again last week and is likely to face a constant barrage of blitzes this week. With the home crowd already against him, a turnover will incite a chorus of boo’s that would make even the toughest men cry.

3. Win back the fans
The fan base is in a state of despair. Nearly five years after the franchise was officially born, the Texans are nowhere near competing for a playoff berth. Most everyone has given up on David Carr and this week they have to watch the player they wanted the Texans to draft to take his place. It would be huge if the Texans, and more importantly #8, could come thru with a strong effort this week and come out victorious. If they get smoked, they might as well head back to Nashville with the Titans.