Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles
Week 13 in the NFL has arrived, and this week's Thursday night matchup features the Houston Texans at the Philadelphia Eagles.
Despite the Texans' 5-6 record, they're fighting for their playoff lives, as are the Eagles.
Both teams are still very much alive in their respective playoff races but could knock themselves out of contention with a loss.
What to watch for
Michael Vick vs. Texans Secondary
At this point, Vick's accomplishments this season are well known. His name is being thrown in the hat for league MVP, and he has made a legitimate case. This season, Vick leads the NFL in passer rating and is averaging 286 yards per game in the six contests he's started and finished. That's fifth in the NFL. Add in his running ability, and he's proving more difficult than ever to defend.
Unfortunately, that's precisely what the Texans defense has to do if they want to stay in the playoff hunt. The Houston defense is ranked last or second to last in several statistical categories. They're 31st in the NFL allowing 286.2 yards per game, 32nd in the NFL allowing 25 passing touchdowns, 32nd in the NFL allowing 13 pass plays over 40 yards and 31st in the league with opposing quarterbacks posting a 102.8 QB rating.
This matchup clearly favors the Philadelphia Eagles and must have DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin licking their chops.
Arian Foster vs. Eagles Run Defense
The Eagles defense has been phenomenal this year stopping the run; before Matt Forte gashed the Eagles last week, they had not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. The problem for the Eagles is that not only are they going against the NFL's leading rusher, but Arian Foster has shown that he's also a threat in the receiving game.
Foster is second on the Texans in both receptions and yards, providing Matt Schaub with multiple options. On the ground, however, he's averaged over 100 yards a game with a 5.1 yards per carry average. If Forte exposed any weakness in the Eagles defense, Foster will capitalize. Still, this defense has only allowed four rushes over 20 yards all season, and two of them came last week.
Foster's success will be key for the Texans to win this game, but this looks to be in the Eagles' favor.
Who's Hot, Who's Not
Coming into this matchup, the Texans are 1-4 in their last five games, which is a bit misleading. Not only have three of those four losses come by a touchdown or less, but the Texans have also led late in each of those three games.
There was the Hail Mary by Jacksonville and the late heroics by Santonio Holmes against the Jets. This team, despite its defensive woes, is two plays away from being 7-4 as opposed to 5-6. They've gone toe-to-toe against several playoff-caliber teams.
The Eagles, on the other hand, are 3-2 in their last five games but 4-1 in Vick's last five. This team is an average to good team with Kevin Kolb but an elite team with Vick.
On one hand, this game could be like the Eagles-Redskins game in Week 10, but on the other hand, if the Texans are able to keep their offense on the field and provide running lanes for Arian Foster, the Texans could pull out an upset. Still, on paper, the game heavily favors Philadelphia.