Thank goodness it’s finally Monday night! After having to wait an extra day, Houston Texans fans get to watch their team play their first primetime game of the season on the road against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. The MNF matchup features two teams moving in opposite directions. The Texans are 4-0 for the first time in Houston professional football history while the Jets are 2-2 and coming off a 34-0 loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers. The Texans continue to steamroll opponents while the excessively covered, overhyped Jets are at a tipping point where a loss tonight could send the organization into a frenzy.
Stop The Run
The lone weakness one could potentially point out with the Texans’ defense is their ability to stop the run. They only rank 18th in the NFL and keep in mind, the Texans have held large leads during all four games this season, meaning opposing offenses are forced to pass more than usual in an attempt to make a comeback. The Jets haven’t exactly lit the ground on fire running the ball, but the Texans need to make it a point to both improve on their run defense and get the ball in Jets QB Mark Sanchez’s hands early and often.
Win The Turnover Battle
Speaking of Sanchez, he has a propensity to turn the ball over and make bad decisions when under pressure. Sanchez better be prepared, because he is going to face plenty of pressure against the Texans defense. The key here is not so much to force turnovers (the Jets will turn it over on their own), it’s more about protecting the football. The Texans have only turned the ball over twice this season and need to continue taking care of the ball in order to fully take advantage of the Jets’ mistakes.
Ignore The Spotlight
As stated above, this is the Texans’ first primetime game of the season and first game of significant national attention since last season’s playoff loss against the Baltimore Ravens. The Texans didn’t show any signs of letting the attention get to them last season in their first real thrust into the spotlight, but this is a new season and a new situation. The Texans simply need to focus on the field and play their game and if they’re able to do that, they should win this contest going away.
BIG GAME ALERT
RB Ben Tate
As noted in this week’s key matchup article, the Jets have been woeful against the opposing rushing attack. The Texans run the ball more than any team in the NFL, it’s an integral part of their offense. There is no doubt the Texans are going to attempt to impose their will on the Jets in the trenches and run the ball, but the Texans need to be careful of overworking starting RB Arian Foster because he is on pace to carry the ball more than 400 times this season. Fans should expect to see more and more of Tate, especially in a game like tonight’s where the Texans could (and should) be able to run at will against the Jets. Look for Tate to get more work in the coming weeks, starting tonight.
It’s never easy to win a game on the road in the NFL, but the Texans have already bested one of the league’s top home-field advantages in Denver against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The Jets are reeling and on the verge of complete dysfunction. Their offense might now be the worst in football following injuries and their defense hasn’t been the same without CB Darrelle Revis. While the Texans out-Rex Ryan the Jets by playing defense and running the football, brace yourselves for the relentless “Tebow” chants from a half filled stadium in the second half of what could be a blow victory for the Texans.
TEXANS 31, JETS 10
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