Texans face Eagles with upset in mind
Originally Posted by Doppelganger1
perfect weather to run the ball with Foster.
Playoff hopes could get big boost with win in Philly
By JOHN McCLAIN
Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle
Dec. 2, 2010, 12:04AM
PHILADELPHIA — Fans and media in Philadelphia have berated the Eagles for losing at Chicago and dropping into a first-place tie with the New York Giants in the NFC East.
If all goes according to plan, the Eagles will take out their vengeance on the Texans tonight in a nationally televised game at Lincoln Financial Field, where the temperature is expected to be in the low 30s at kickoff.
The 31-26 loss to the Bears has forced the Eagles to focus on the Texans and not look beyond them to their next two games at Dallas and at the Giants.
The Texans’ 20-0 victory over Tennessee has forced them to consider this: If they win four of their last five games, they’ll finish 9-7, a record that could win the AFC South.
An upset of the Eagles and quarterback Michael Vick would do wonders for the Texans’ confidence — not to mention their reputation as a super-soft team — but they’re eight-point underdogs.
“It’s do-or-die right now,” strong safety Bernard Pollard said. “I think it’s ‘do’ for us. We understand where we are. We have to continue to play with a passion and the heart that we’ve been playing with and eliminate the mistakes.
“I think if we can continue to do that, the wins will come.”
The word on the street is the Eagles are worried about quarterback Matt Schaub, receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster. They want to avoid allowing the Texans to control the ball for almost 40 minutes, as they did against the Titans.
The Eagles don’t want to see Vick and his big-play receivers sitting on the bench, trying to stay warm.
“I hope we run 76 plays again,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “That’s the first time in a while we were able to hold the football that long. There were plenty of snaps to go around.
“When he (Foster) is able to touch it that many times (30 rushes, nine catches), usually good things happen.”
The Texans would love for Foster to touch the ball a lot again, but Philadelphia’s game plan will be designed to stop him and force Schaub to pass. The problem for the Eagles is that cornerback Asante Samuel, who has seven interceptions, is going to be a game-time decision because of a knee injury.
If Samuel isn’t available to cover Johnson, the secondary could be in trouble. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler threw four touchdown passes against the Eagles.
“They’re a top-10 offensive (second) and defensive (10th) team,” Kubiak said. “You don’t find that very often. They’re very aggressive with a lot of pressures.”
The Eagles have 30 sacks, and they’ve intercepted 19 passes. They’ve forced 26 turnovers. The Texans have forced 13.
“The biggest thing for us is to protect the football,” Kubiak said. “We’ve got to find a way to protect the ball, because they’ll find a way to get it out.”
The Texans and Eagles have committed only 12 turnovers each, tied for the fourth fewest in the league.
“They do a lot of different things, a lot of different complex looks, and you’ve just got to be aware of what coverages they’re playing behind,” Schaub said. “
You’ve got to be right with your protections and where you’re going with the football.
“You can’t guess, because you’ll be wrong more often than not.”
This isn’t the best time to be playing the Eagles. Not only are they trying to win the NFC East, but since 2000, they are 38-16-1 (.700) following a loss, second only to Indianapolis in that span.
Also since 2000, the Eagles are 62-26-1 (.702) in November and December, second behind New England.
The Texans also have a lot to play for. They’re 5-6, and only one game separates the four teams in the AFC South.
“Honestly, that’s the NFL for you,” tight end Joel Dreessen said. “Everything is so entirely circumstantial from week to week. I know it was definitely tough going through that four-game losing streak, but now things are turning around.”