Houston Texans: Arian Foster Is the Key To Success vs. New York Giants in Week 5

Stephen KasperCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2010

Texans running back Arian Foster
Texans running back Arian FosterBob Levey/Getty Images

Finally, the Houston Texans have sole possession of first place in the AFC South.

Yet, even as they sit on top of the division, they still have plenty of unanswered questions as they head into Sunday's game against the New York Giants, which is sure to be a tough game for the Texans.

There are so many story lines in this game, it's hard to decide which one is the most important:

Will Andre Johnson play?

Houston's struggling defense.

Will New York's defensive line punish Matt Schaub and the Texans' offensive line the way they did against Jay Cutler and the Bears?

The list goes on. Yet, it really only comes down to one thing:

Arian Foster.

New York's ability to stop Arian Foster will be the deciding factor in who wins this game.

Houston is first in the league in rushing yards per game with 172. The Giants have the 22nd ranked rushing defense in the league, allowing 117 yards per game on the ground, which gives Foster a very nice match-up.

Arian Foster didn't even play in the first half against the Oakland Raiders, and he still had 16 rushes for 131 yards and a touchdown.

Granted that was against Oakland, but even the Raiders should feel embarrassed for how much they gave up to Foster in just two quarters. Arian Foster has become the X-factor for the success of this Houston Texans team not only because of his ability to run the football, but the ability to distract opposing defenses.

When an NFL team succeeds on the ground, they usually succeed through the air as well, and that is what Foster does for this Texans offense. He takes the attention away from the passing game and creates an incredible headache for the defense.

Much like the Minnesota Vikings last year with Adrian Peterson running the ball and Brett Favre passing all over the place, Houston forces the defense to keep guessing because of their ability to be productive on the ground as well as through the air.

And while New York has the second best pass defense in the NFL, only allowing 140 passing yards a game, the only potential playoff team they have faced thus far is Indianapolis when Peyton Manning had 255 yards through the air and Joseph Addai and Donald Brown rushed for over 160 yards.

Still, even with Foster on pace to break 2,000 yards rushing, averaging 134 yards per game, New York definitely has the ability to slow Foster down with a strong line and an impressive linebacker core. But completely stopping him is all but impossible for this Giants defense.

As I said, there is a wide variety of story lines and matchups for this game, all of which are important.

Brian Cushing's return.

Eli Manning's top 10 passing offense.

Even New York's poor special teams play.

But slowing down Arian Foster is the key to success for the New York Giants in this game.

However, should Foster have a big day, Houston will run away with this one, literally.