From one AFC South opponent to the next. Last week’s victory over the lowly Jaguars was a “must have” as the Rams were on a three-game free fall. A lost against a team who are 27.5-point underdogs to the Denver Broncos would cause Rams’ fans worldwide to form a pitchfork mob on a rampant march to the Edwards Jones Domes.
A catastrophe was indeed dodged.
Sunday’s opponent, a Texans team who are on a three-game skid of their own, will be looking to quickly wipe out the Rams the Rams brief success. Matt Schaub has an NFL record of four consecutive games with a pick-6. Schaub probably isn’t happy knowing Matt Giordano returned an interception 82 yards for and score and knowing Janoris Jenkins led the NFL last year with four defensive touchdowns.
With other matchups set to dictate the game, let’s dive into them.
Texans running game vs. Rams run defense
The obvious one, of course.
With Schaub struggling mightily the past few weeks, rest assure St. Louis will receive a heavy dose of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The Texans have the 8th-ranked rushing attack in the NFL (133.6 YPG) and Foster is the 7th leading rusher with 390 yards. Tate, who has the skills to become the sole, workhorse running back on any team, is first among running backs averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
Fans are more than aware of the Rams woes on defense ranking 29th in rushing defense giving up 126.0 yards on the ground. Schaub and the Texans will still take their shots, but if star wide receiver Andre Johnson miss the game because of a shin injury, the Rams better tighten their chinstraps and prepare for a physical game.
Keep a close eye on recently re-signed linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar who only registered one tackle against Jacksonville. He will be very active after shaking off the rust against the Jaguars and preparing for Houston’s rushing attack.
Matt Schaub vs. Rams secondary
As I previously stated, Schaub is now the owner of a record that no one wants to claim. A streak of four consecutive games with an interception returned for a touchdown demoralizes an offense. Coupling that with outside criticism to bench Schaub in favor of T.J. Yates–who replaced Schaub in the 4th quarter in the blowout loss to San Francisco–the Rams secondary could have a few gifted-wrapped picks.
Schaub has been forcing the ball into coverage, shown indecisive to release the ball on time and has been shaky with his accuracy. His confidence has severely taken a hit, he knows he is on a short lease. Tight end Owen Daniels is also scheduled to miss the game due to injury, this will only force Schaub to make throws to unfamiliar targets.
Rookie receiver DeAndre Hopskins has been a bright spot for Houston, but I’d give the edge to a more experienced and every bit as explosive Jenkins to blanket him all game long.
Defensive Chris Long vs. Left tackle Duane Brown
After four consecutive games without registering a whole sack. Long got off the snide last week against the Jaguars notching his first sack of the season. Defensive ends or cornerbacks will always tell you that the first sack or interception is always the hardest. Now that the pressure is off Long to record his first sack, I expect him to play more freely and disrupt the passer.
Brown is one of the best tackles in all of football, but he is currently listed as questionable with a turf toe injury. Having to deal with Long all game at less than 100 percent should good Long the advantage.