The Blueprint makes
yet another a change for the rest of the 2010 season with two repeat divisional foes and a lowly Denver team under interim coaching. Instead of an overall statistical breakdown, we'll be looking at three key match-ups that will determine Sunday's outcome.
Before we get to this Sunday, I'd like to look back at last week's Blueprint. I'll likely be doing a Kubiak-focused feature on SB Nation Houston later this week, but I'm going to give Gary Kubiak credit for his first-half gameplan this past Monday night.
Last week, I wrote that the offense should look at running to the right while Ravens fans suggested passes to the tight end could yield yardage. The Texans came out doing just those things. Granted, the early tight end passes were dropped by Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen, but that's not any fault of the gameplan or coaches.
You can argue why they didn't keep up with the run at the time, but you have to keep a defense somewhat honest with a pass. Eventually, the team fell behind and had to play from behind, but I'm giving credit to Kubiak for a spot-on gameplan to begin the game. Hopefully, he can come up with another one on Sunday.
Speaking of Sunday, your Houston Texans travel to Tennessee as they try and sweep the reeling Titans. Of course, fans can expect to hear and read a lot of fight puns in the lead-up to this game, aside from head coaching speculation, as a result of the match-up a few weeks ago. Hit the jump to see the undercard and main event for Week 15's match-up.
Right Tackle Eric Winston vs. Left Defensive End Jason Babin
Babin could care less about a win for the Titans. Look at his posing and taunting in the first match-up while being down 20-0 and look at some of his Tweets. The guy's finally having a good season, and that's what seems to matter to him, not wins.
For Winston, this has been a career-worst season. Multiple false starts, multiple holdings, multiple sacks allowed...the big fella can't do anything outside of run blocking. In the first match-up, Babin bull-rushed and embarrassed Winston for a sack, and Winston committed a few costly penalties on top of that.
If Matt Schaub's going to get pressure, it's likely coming from Winston's side, which means it's on Winston to step up and stop playing like a rookie. If the good EW can do his job, Schaub's going to pick apart the Tennessee secondary.
Strong-side Linebacker Brian Cushing vs. Running Back Chris Johnson
In the first match-up, Johnson had a career-low five rushing yards. His failure was largely due to Amobi Okoye's pressure and Brian Cushing's four tackles for a loss. Even as a receiver, Johnson could not get away from Cushing. In order for Houston to put the pressure on Kerry Collins' shoulder to win, Cushing's going to need to be all over Johnson again.
When Houston has limited Johnson to under 75 rushing yards, the Texans are 2-0 against the Titans. In the games where Johnson has gone over 75? 0-3. Cushing's tackling when Johnson tries to bounce it outside will be the defense's biggest match-up.
The Main Event
Wide Receiver Andre Johnson vs. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan
What ESPN has been hyping for weeks has arrived: The Rematch. Given all the extra attention, I don't think Johnson will do anything unless clearly provoked. Instead, as he has done since the fight, I imagine Johnson will let his on-field play do the talking.
Since the fight, Johnson has 15 catches for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Given his size, speed, and talent advantage, I'd put money on Johnson coming out like a man possessed against the former Pro Bowl cornerback. Finnegan, who is having a down season, may not have any answer for a motivated and pissed-off Andre Johnson. Since Matt Schaub's targeting Johnson at a 27% rate, the offense may go as Johnson goes.
That's my take on Sunday. How about yours? Let the comments have it.