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Old 10-08-2010   #1
LORK 88
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Exclamation LORK's Week 4 Preview



Can you feel the excitement? Houston is 3-1, first in the division, and now gets all pro linebacker Brian Cushing back. While this is an awesome start compared to years past, this is only ¼ of the playoff equation and Houston must continue their winning ways. Week 5 brings the New York Football Giants to Reliant Stadium. As far as the Giants go, they are the opposite of Houston. While the Texans have a terrible defense and get into offensive shootouts, the Giants are very defensive-minded and rank 3rd in the NFL in yards allowed. Which side will prevail and will Brian Cushing be the edge on defense that Houston needs? Like the bad 70’s TV show ending that I always end up sounding like, stay tuned to find out . . .


Houston’s Running Game vs. New York’s Run D: This is the absolute key to Houston’s offensive success. Foster basically holds the key this week. New York’s running defense has been mediocre this season and allowed both the Colts and Titans to have solid rushing outings (the Giants lost both games). The talent is great along the defensive line, but their athleticism plays into Houston’s zone blocking scheme. Along their line are ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora and tackles Barry Cofield and Chris Canty. Tuck and Osi are incredibly athletic and have a tenacity about them this year that they didn’t last year. Canty is a much better pass rusher and is in his second season in the 4-3. Cofield is a personal favorite of mine and is strong and athletic. He’s been putting a lackluster 2009 season behind him and been stepping up. The linebackers for the Giants are young and have talent, but definitely inconsistent and lack a true leader. Sintim is still transitioning from the 3-4 to the 4-3, Goff is in his first year as a full time starter, and Boley just hasn’t looked the same since his early years in Atlanta. Good news for Houston is they typically do well against athletic defenses. They need to treat this like the Colts and let the ends come straight up the field. If Houston can run the ball well, they can control the game and avoid making Schaub vulnerable.

Houston’s Passing Game vs. New York’s Pass D: The Giants are built for rushing the passer. Tuck and Osi are both pass rushing defensive ends that specialize in getting to the QB. Both can get the edge and are extremely athletic. Canty has spent most of his time as a 3-4 DE and the other DT Barry Cofield is also athletic enough to make plays. Even starting linebacker was thought of as a 3-4 OLB because of how great he was at rushing the passer in college. Scary thing is these are just the starters. The secondary is pretty solid. New York’s main three cornerbacks have plenty of experience and are a talented bunch that includes starters Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas with Aaron Ross as the third CB. Thomas is my favorite out of the bunch and is a young playmaker. Ross has struggled at CB in the past, but can play just about every position in the secondary. At safety is pro bowler Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips (if he plays). Rolle spent time at CB before shifting to safety and never looked back. He has the coverage skills for the position and is a willing tackler. Phillips is questionable, but has talent. He’s constantly injured, so it’s hard to know how he’ll play. He’s basically a wild card. Houston definitely needs to stay out of third and longs or plan on running a lot of draw plays/screens. They need to manage the down and distance to let them take advantage of 3 and 5 step drops.

New York’s Running Game vs. Houston’s Run D: The Giants offense is a bit of an enigma; they are top 10 in the NFL in yards per game, but rank 20th in points per game which plays well into the Houston “bend but don’t break” philosophy. As far as the running game, Ahmad Bradshaw is the starter but might not play. He’s shifty and hits the hole quickly. Mario Williams and Antonio Smith will need to keep aware of the cutback lanes as Bradshaw can and will take advantage of them. If he doesn’t play, the big bruiser Brandon Jacobs will play. He can make defenses pay with his physical style and is more athletic than people give him credit for, but he fits better for Houston’s aggressive defense with the likes of Cushing and DeMeco Ryans. As far as the offensive line for the Giants, they’ve been playing together for years and for good reason! If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. They have lots of chemistry and are a physical, mauling group. This could cause problems in the middle as our weak point, but there is some question when it comes to center due to injuries which should help out at least a bit. For Houston, if they’re playing against Bradshaw they need to play contain and avoid the big run. If it’s against Brandon Jacobs they need to put on their hard hats and gang tackle. Houston has one of the top run defenses so I’m not overly concerned. They definitely need to focus more on the pass.

New York’s Passing Game vs. Houston’s Pass D: Here’s where the big problem is for Houston. Despite Eli Manning being a bit turnover prone, he has a talented group of receivers. He’s not afraid to take shots downfield and can make you pay if you give him time. As far as targets it starts with Hakeem Nicks, the second year player out of North Carolina. He’s got solid speed and runs great routes. He can get down field and has the size advantage. Steve Smith should be the better matchup for Houston’s secondary as he’s a possession receiver so there shouldn’t be overly concerned about him burning anyone deep although he will probably kill the corners over the middle. The third go to player of the group is Mario Manningham and he’s dangerous. He’s got speed, is a vertical threat, and can make the big play. It will be a good week to see how Troy Nolan does in deep coverage. A big matchup in the passing game will be Kevin Boss against Houston’s linebackers. They’ve done terrible against tight ends, but Cushing has a much better track record and could cure the woes. As far as pass protection, New York is nothing special although they will definitely try to contain Mario Williams. That will leave Antonio Smith and Amobi Okoye in one on one situations so they need to be ready to take advantage. The pass rush will be the saving grace for Houston; if they can get to Eli, they can force bad throws and make up for the lack of solid corners.


POSITION BATTLE
QB Advantage: HOUSTON
RB Advantage: HOUSTON
WR Advantage: PUSH
TE Advantage: PUSH
OL Advantage: PUSH
DL Advantage: NEW YORK
LB Advantage: HOUSTON
CB Advantage: NEW YORK
S Advantage: NEW YORK
K/P Advantage: PUSH
RET Advantage: HOUSTON


X-FACTOR: Brian Cushing, OLB

Best believe Cushing is the X Factor! It’s crazy for most people to think Houston is 3-1 so far this season. It’s even crazier to think that they did this without their all pro linebacker. Cushing’s intensity has been missed and he will immediately start on the strong side moving Zach Diles back over to weak side. His biggest impact will be in the passing game where he can rush the pass and also drop back in coverage. Houston has given up a significant amount of passing yards, but surprisingly a high amount of those are to tight ends and running backs (about 46% of all yards allowed). His presence should help lower these numbers. Cushing is also the most effective linebacker Houston has when it comes to rushing the passer. Houston’s run defense is already 2nd in the NFL so his main benefit will come in the passing game.


KEYS TO THE GAME

1) Quick decision-making from Schaub. Last week New York got after Jay Cutler and abused Chicago’s offensive line. Part of it is Chicago’s offensive line; they’ve allowed this all season. The other part is Cutler likes to hold on to the ball too long in Martz’s scheme which requires time for the receivers to get open down field. While Houston has a significantly better offensive line, Schaub also tends to hold onto the ball too long. He needs to work the 3 and 5 step drops to make ensure he doesn’t take unnecessary punishment like he did against Dallas.

2) Jump out to an early lead. New York has a stingy pass defense that has both stellar pass rushers and a talented secondary. For Houston, a huge key will be gaining an early lead so that they don’t have to abandon the run. Houston’s running game has been stable all season long and is a vulnerability of New York’s. If Houston falls behind, it will play right into New York’s strength and could begin a vicious spiral downward. Houston can pass the ball, but there are definitely more mistakes to be made when the defense knows you have to throw the ball.

3) Win the turnover battle. Eli Manning likes to make mistakes. Schaub when pressured can also make mistakes so there is a definite opportunity for some sloppy play on Sunday. Houston needs to be ready for an aggressive New York defense that will be looking to force mistakes, especially if they don’t have to worry about Andre Johnson and/or Jacoby Jones. For Houston, ball security will be key. Whether they want this to mean more carries for Arian Foster and less for Slaton or even fewer passes is up to the coaching staff. Either way, the turnover battle will be key.
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Old 10-08-2010   #2
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

It's week five.
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Old 10-08-2010   #3
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It's week five.
and is that a picture of HHMNBN? For shame.
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Old 10-08-2010   #4
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

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It's week five.
Eff, that's what I get for skipping one week. Can a mod hook it up and edit the title to week 5?
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Old 10-08-2010   #5
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Eff, that's what I get for skipping one week. Can a mod hook it up and edit the title to week 5?
While we're at it... Lance Briggs has something to say about Cushing's All Pro claim.

Great write up again. Not too many people can do it better than you.
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Old 10-08-2010   #6
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aren't we due a nice comfortable win... im saying it happens this week. texans by 10+
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Old 10-09-2010   #7
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

Whatevertheheck week it is, I enjoyed your assessment. Thanks for the good read!

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Old 10-09-2010   #8
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

i think this is the first time this season we roll a team. Half the stadium won't be full of cowpie fans this time and we're coming in pumped with the Cush back and hopefully AJ back as well.

I say

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Giants-13
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Old 10-09-2010   #9
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

Great read as always, I'm dissapointed though, that you left us hanging in week 4, don't let that happen again
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Old 10-09-2010   #10
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

The Colts and Titans beat the Giants by running over 40 times during their games. We need to pound the rock this game.

And then hope for the best from our defense.
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Old 10-09-2010   #11
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

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RET Advantage: HOUSTON
With Steve Slaton returning kicks, and David Anderson punts, the Texans hold the return advantage over no NFL team. Or few Houston area high schools, for that matter.
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Old 10-09-2010   #12
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With Steve Slaton returning kicks, and David Anderson punts, the Texans hold the return advantage over no NFL team. Or few Houston area high schools, for that matter.
slaton got the kubiak seal of approval on his radio show this week... which he has previously given to mario (when he was getting a load of criticism at the start of his 2nd/breakout season) & the o-line last yr when he said he thinks 'it'll be the strength of the team going forward'. both turned out to be very accurate despite looking foolish at the time so im going to give slaton the time to prove everybody else wrong
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Old 10-09-2010   #13
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slaton got the kubiak seal of approval on his radio show this week... which he has previously given to mario (when he was getting a load of criticism at the start of his 2nd/breakout season) & the o-line last yr when he said he thinks 'it'll be the strength of the team going forward'. both turned out to be very accurate despite looking foolish at the time so im going to give slaton the time to prove everybody else wrong
I dont know... Every time I hear the name *Slaton' I'm thinking 'out of bounds on the 1-yard line...'
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Old 10-09-2010   #14
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With Steve Slaton returning kicks, and David Anderson punts, the Texans hold the return advantage over no NFL team. Or few Houston area high schools, for that matter.
That's COLD Lucky.

funny as hell, but cold.
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Old 10-09-2010   #15
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

Good breakdown as usual, Lork. While I won't hold that week 4 typo against you, that pict of HWWNBM is less forgivable. That's like three uniforms ago for him isn't it??
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Old 10-09-2010   #16
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That's COLD Lucky.

funny as hell, but cold.
Not at all , thats the honest truth .... Slaton has failed to cleanly catch a KO three consecutive weeks .... and dont forget his boneheaded play against the Skins ..... PLEASE for the love of GOD find someone else to return KO's Gary.
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Old 10-09-2010   #17
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

Good read Lorke, but one point you made that makes me worry, is there highly ranked offense vs low rank in scoring. Two weeks ago, the raiders converted only 3 of 13 red zone opportunities into points. Two of which I believe were field goals. Last week vs the Texans, they turned three red zone opportunities into touch downs.
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Old 10-09-2010   #18
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

Like always, I enjoy reading your thoughts Lork. I'm just concerned about our offensive line going up against a talented defensive line like the Giants. Although the Texans o-line has done well blocking and opening up massive holes, the Giants performance against the Bears has me concerned...a little.

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Old 10-09-2010   #19
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Like always, I enjoy reading your thoughts Lork. I'm just concerned about our offensive line going up against a talented defensive line like the Giants. Although the Texans o-line has done well blocking and opening up massive holes, the Giants performance against the Bears has me concerned...a little.

I'm not Lork but... look at it this way...

The Bears gave up 4 sacks to the Lions, 1 sack to the Cowboys (although Cutler was beaten like a pinata in that game), and 3 sacks to the Packers before giving up 10 sacks to the Giants.

The Giants had 4 sacks against the Panthers, 1 sack against the Colts, and 1 sack against the Titans.

The Bear line combined with Cutler's desire for the big play combined with Martz's play calling is why the Giants got those 10 sacks. If I'm not mistaken, they got 9 of them in the first half. So even the Bears were able to make some half-time adjustments to "fix" the problem but by then it was too late.

The Giants do have a line that can get after the passer. But it's also a line that you can run against. IF we gameplan this right, Schaub's not going to be in any danger at all although he may get sacked a couple of times.
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Old 10-10-2010   #20
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Default Re: LORK's Week 4 Preview

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aren't we due a nice comfortable win... im saying it happens this week. texans by 10+
I second this.
I'm thinking we have advantage in every facet except for the secondary.

Their secondary may get too aggressive, however, and I'm a thinking Schaub will burn them!
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