Nothing like a bounce-back game against the worst quarterback in the league, but this week is a much different story. This week the Texans face an Arizona Cardinals team that features a two-time MVP quarterback and the best duo of wide receivers in the league. The Texans secondary certainly has its work cut out for them, and they are among the most important matchups for the Texans this week.
1. Mario Williams vs. Mike Gandy - What's the best way to keep one of Kurt Warner's wide receivers in check? Put Warner on his back--repeatedly. In week two against Jacksonville, the Jaguars had zero sacks and Warner set a record for completion ratio (24-26). The next week against Indianapolis, the Colts sacked Warner 4 times including 2 by RDE Dwight Freeney, which led to an Indy route. Mario is coming off a week that he played lights out but tweaked his shoulder a bit. It is pivotal that Williams and company produce as much pressure as possible on Sunday.
2. Dunta Robinson vs. Larry Fitzgerald - I thought about being cute here and highlighting Glover Quin, who even if Jacques Reeves returns will have to guard Steve Breaston or Jerheme Urban in nickel situations, but that doesn't scare me nearly as much as Dunta on Fitz. Robinson hasn't really faced a legitimately dominant vertical threat this season, but that will change this week. What scares me even more is that after a modest (for Larry) 17 receptions for 181 yards, he's due. If Dunta really wants to earn that huge contract, here's his chance to prove he's worth it.
3. Andre Johnson vs. Bryant McFadden - Normally I try not to be this obvious, but in a game in which two wide receivers who are widely considered the best in the league face off, I had to include Andre. Not only for that, but Bryant McFadden was torched by Mike Sims-Walker and Reggie Wayne the last two games for 238 yards and 2 TDs.
4. Matt Schaub vs. Kurt Warner - I don't know where I saw it, but someone commented that this game will likely be decided by which quarterback makes less mistakes, i.e., turnovers. This game has the makings of a classic shootout and it will be imperative that Matt takes care of the ball. I actually felt better about Schaub's last performance after hearing that he felt extremely ill on Sunday, something that was obvious after seeing how gaunt he looked in his post-game interview following the game.
5. Kyle Shanahan vs. Playcalling - Gary Kubiak claimed that the conservative playcalling in the second half last game, which consisted almost exclusively of run plays, was so that the offensive staff could diagnose the problems running the ball. I hope they found the answers, but if they didn't, the Texans will have to win the game through the air. Arizona is currently 6th in the league in rush defense after giving up a meager average of 79.7 yards per game, so if Steve Slaton doesn't get it going early, Baby Shan can't be afraid to let Schaub air the ball out.