Week 4 Preview, Houston at Atlanta

Houston TexansAtlanta Falcons
Consider this game a homecoming of sorts for Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. After all, he at one time was considered the QB of the future for the Atlanta Falcons. But the Falcons, perhaps in desperation, traded Schaub to the Texans, leaving little experience behind Michael Vick. When Vick’s legal troubles came to the forefront, that left the Falcons in a bind. So there will be some interest in this matchup between the Texans and the winless Falcons.

The Texans have improved leaps and bounds over last season. They obtained Schaub, who is gradfually making people forget about their previous QB, current Carolina Panther David Carr. He has decent numbers (63-for-83, 688 yards, 4 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) for the team that he inherits in Houston. Star wide receiver Anfre Johnson (14-262-3 TD’s) will be out this week, leaving the ball-catching chores to Andre Davis, Jacoby Jones and emerging tight end Owen Daniels. Special teams has made its mark as well as Jerome Mathis has returned a kickoff for a TD this season. But it is the defense that has made the most spectacular turnaround. Their run defense is stout (allowing 76 yards/game – ranked 6th overall), with solid play from defensive tackle Amobi Okoye (3 sacks) and DeMeco Ryans (28 tackles, 24 solo).

Meanwhile, the Falcons are a team who are looking for an identity. The distractions aside (Michael Vick and DeAngelo Hall), the Falcons played a somewhat decent game despite their loss to the Carolina Panthers last week. Despite their winless status, they have some components that can be put to good use against the Texans this week. QB Joey Harrington, despite his “underachiever” tag, is having a good season (66-for-96, 760 yards, 2 TD’s, 2 INT’s). The offensive line needs to improve, having allowed 14 sacks already this season. Perhaps the saving grace of the team is their pass defense (ranked 8th overall). While their secondary isn’t exactly interception-crazy, they are efficient.

The Texans may need to incorporate the run early, despite the numbers put up by RB’s Ahman Green, Ron Dayne and Samkon Gado. Special teams may need to play a key role, as well. The Falcons will need to use Harrington often I think, due to the fact that their RB’s, Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood have been ineffective so far this season. And of course, the Falcons’ O-line will need to step it up this week so Harrington gets as little pressure as possible. But a collective effort by the Texans (in other words, no one stands out) will be what puts the Texans in the win column this week.

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