After explosive open season scheduling saw the Raiders face their three most hated rivals in the first three games, the fourth week finds the Raiders traveling to face off with the dreaded Houston Oilers….
Wait no, that’s not right. The evil Houstan Titans… no, that’s not it… the dastardly Tennesee Oilers… hmm that’s not right either. The sith lord Texas Titans… Damn that’s not it either. The maniacal Texas Houstons? No wait… that sparks something… oh yeah it’s the I want to be menacing Houston Texans.
Houston Texans? Apparently the city of Houston was so bewildered, by the fact they couldn’t name their team the Oilers, the best they could do was the Texans.
Honestly, god bless the Houston fans, it must have been frustrating for them to watch Tennessee play in Oilers gear.
The same Houston fans who watch their team play with a storied seven year history, and carry the unique distinction of being the only NFL team to have never qualified for the playoffs.
I could have sworn I saw Houston’s Warren Moon and company in an epic second half playoff meltdown against some QB named Reich.
The Texans came into existence as the same time as the Browns… well the Browns the second time around. Oh god, this makes no sense. They should just be the Oilers. What the hell does Tennessee care about the Oilers legacy? They don’t even use the name.
Okay enough history. The present is almost upon us, or is it already here?
This is an important game for each team. 2-2 is a vastly different view than 1-3. I have to admit though, after the agonizingly lackluster performance of last weeks Donkey’s game it is hard to get excited for Raider football this week.
Judging by the opinions expressed by other Raider fans, the excitement is there, it is just not centered on the upcoming game. While there are certainly those who remain calm they are being drowned out by the growing and thundering mob.
Split into two groups it is a mob that marches while banging the butts of their pitchforks and shotguns. One group burns a trail to Jamarcus Russell and the other Al Davis.
There is only one-way for these two men to stem the murderous and rising seas: win on Sunday.
With that in mind lets take a look at the breakdown of the opponents and key matchups for the upcoming battle against the Oiler… damn Texans.
For a team, such as the Raiders, struggling on offense the Texans may be just the tonic that cures their ales.
Of course for a team, such as the Texans, struggling on defense the Raiders may be their medical marijuana sent straight from David Crosby’s garden.
The Texans are ranked 28th in points allowed and 32nd in yards allowed, for those of you keeping track, a team ranked 32nd at something in the NFL means they are dead last.
The Raiders are 30th in points scored and 31st in yards. I was shocked to see these rankings- I can’t believe they are not last in these categories.
Something has to give on Sunday.
Teams are running right through, over and around the Texans D. In just three games the Texans have allowed a league high 614 yards on the ground and they are doing it on an average of 6.2 yards per carry. They have also allowed eight rushing TD’s.
At first glance it looks like the Texans pass D is fairing better than the run D, until noticing that opponents are averaging 7.2 yards per pass attempt.
The greatest asset to Houston’s pass D right now is the fact that teams are having so much success running on them that they have not been forced to utilize that crazy forward pass thing very often.
When teams do decided to let the ball go airborne against the Texans they are having success with the TE’s. Opponents of the Texans are completing 55 percent of the passes to TE’s for an average of nine yards per attempt.
Teams are completing 60 percent of their passes to WR’s at an average of 7.2 per attempt and 59 percent of their passes to backs for 5.8 yards per attempt.
The Texans have managed only one sack and two picks this season and they are coming off of a game against a lackluster Jacksonville offensive line.
Overall the Texans are surrendering a crippling 6.7 yards per play. The Texans are giving up a lot of big plays and they are doing it in a variety of ways.
Offense is a much different story for the Texans. Their passing offense is clicking. They are averaging 7.1 yards per pass attempt. Matt Schaub has connected on 64.5 percent of his attempts while throwing 7 TD’s and only 2 picks.
No surprise, Andre Johnson is the Texans leading WR, but he is certainly not the only WR. Last week also saw the return of WR Kevin Walter. He had seven catches, 96 yards and a TD.
The Texans also get their TE Daniels into the mix. He has 15 catches and 2 TD’s.
Steve Slaton has been effective catching the ball this season. He has 9 catches for 97 yards. He has, however, not been as successful running the ball.
He is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, which also happens to be the Texans team average. Houston has yet to score a rushing TD.
So with the Texans strengths and weaknesses in mind lets take a look at the:
Raiders O vs. Texans D
Chris Johnson has had a solid year as the second CB and he will be tested again spending most of his day guarding Kevin Walter.
The Raiders have been strong in guarding the oppositions TE and this part of their D will be tested again.
After watching the footage from last week Broncos game, the Texans will likely look to use the mid range passing game and underneath routes.
Slaton will be involved in the pass game and the Raiders LB’s will have to be better in coverage than they were last week.
None of these match-ups are going to matter if the Raiders allow the Texans to get their run game going. The Texans offense has been succeeding without the benefit of the run game.
If the Raiders allow this offense to suddenly become a two-headed monster than it is going to be a long day for the silver and black.
The Raiders need to capitalize on the opportunities this soft D should present them. The schedule is only going to get harder from here. The Texans have been hemorrhaging chunks of yardage on D this year.
I think (or maybe just hope) this is the week the Raiders finally hit a big play or two. I predicted some big plays last week, but the Broncos D is much better than I gave them credit for.
Look for the Raiders O to get on track a bit behind the strength of McFadden and Bush’s legs. Then watch the sun shine on the passing game’s ass as there is actually a passing TD or two.
The D will be energized by an offense that actually gives them a breather and the opposition a longer field.
Raiders 27 Texans 20
If the Raiders offense struggles again, it will be a long time before I can predict another victory.
Let your prediction’s roll in the comments below.