Arian Foster's Injury Will Keep Houston Texans from Beating Arizona Cardinals

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IINovember 8, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 06:  Running back Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans looks on prior to the start of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Houston Texans were already in trouble going against the Arizona Cardinals, but with Arian Foster out with a back injury, they're not going to be able to pull out a much-needed win.

Foster left the game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football due to the back injury, and now it appears to be quite serious.  The team's official Twitter account reported that Foster was officially ruled out for Sunday.

To make matters worse, John McClain from the Houston Chronicle reported that Foster is seeing a specialist and hoping to avoid season-ending surgery.

The Texans will now have to go with Ben Tate, who is dealing with four broken ribs, and rookie Dennis Johnson, who ran for 36 yards on eight carries in his first career game last week against the Colts.  They're incredibly thin at the running back position, and that will hurt against a Cardinals defense that's allowing just 88.3 rushing yards per game.

Case Keenum will be making his third career start, and he needs help from the running backs to establish the run.  As a team, the Texans rank ninth in the league in rushing, averaging 129.6 yards per game.

In the past two games, we've seen why an established running game is so important. In Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Texans ran for just 73 yards and averaged 3.0 yards per carry.  Keenum was only able to throw one touchdown.

Against the Indianapolis Colts, the Texans ran for 143 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.  The established running game opened up the pass for Keenum, who threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.

By establishing the run, the offense can give Keenum more time in the pocket to find his receivers deep.  As you can see from this passing direction table, Keenum excels at finding his receivers on deeper passes.

Case Keenum Passer Rating By Direction
20+ yards141.4149.3135.4
10-19 yards142.7118.8107.3
0-9 yards74.375.884.9
Pro Football Focus

Without Foster and with Tate dealing with the rib injury, the Cardinals can focus in on putting the pressure on Keenum.  The Cardinals do a good job at making opposing quarterbacks pay, forcing 12 interceptions and holding them to a 79.8 passer rating.  

Just last week, Arizona forced Matt Ryan to throw four interceptions.  What makes the Cardinals so dangerous defensively is that they have some terrific playmakers in the secondary with guys like Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, who are capable of giving quarterbacks nightmares.

Without Foster, the Texans are going to continue to struggle.  Their defense can keep trying to bail them out, but the offense won't be able to get going and the Texans will get their seventh straight loss.