For those of you who remember me before I Kaiser Soze’d out of the BRB realm, you may recall a weekly feature that I used to do named Texans Five on Five. In these posts I would cite what I considered the five most important matchups between the Houston Texans and their opponent that week. Now that football season is FINALLY back, it’s time to bring back the feature.
This week the Colts come to Reliant to open the season. I would love to call the Colts a rival but that would be intellectually dishonest of me. Winning one out of sixteen games isn’t a rivalry; it’s domination. This week will either cause Texans fans to rejoice the beginning of the effort toward evening that record, or head to their respective ledges after yet another loss. These are the most five important matchups that will determine that outcome.
1. Kareem Jackson vs. Reggie Wayne – The first round cornerback looked good in limited action this preseason, but now it’s time for a trial by fire. Think the Colts won’t go straight after a starting rookie in Week 1? Think again. I’m not sure if Frank Bush will match up Jackson on Wayne or another wideout, but whoever he’s covering should get a few passes early to test his ability, especially down the field, since speed was supposed to be his liability.
2. Amobi Okoye vs Jeff Saturday – Amobi received a lot of praise for his elevated play during the preseason, but the former first round pick needs to prove his worth when the games count. Jeff Saturday practiced fully today, but is still recovering from a recent knee surgery and is likely not yet 100 percent. For the Texans to get to Manning, they need a solid rush up the middle to collapse the pocket.
3. Arian Foster vs. Bob Sanders – We’ve all heard the multitudes of reports about how the offense needs to be more balanced, but clichés are usually true. The reason why the Texans lost at least one of the games last year to the Colts was because of their inability to run the ball. Bob Sanders has missed more games than he has played in his NFL career, yet the former defensive player of the year is a force against the run.
4. Mario Williams vs. Charlie Johnson/Jeff Linkenbach – Williams’ shoulder is finally healthy, and his first target may be an undrafted free agent. Charlie Johnson may not be healthy enough to play, and Tony Ugoh was cut today, leaving Linkenbach starting across at Mario. For Mario to be successful, there has to be a push up the middle to keep Manning from stepping up and getting the ball out of his hands immediately.
5. Peyton Manning vs. Frank Bush – There is one good reason why the Texans have such a lopsided record against the Colts, and he wears #18. Despite all the abuse Bush takes around these parts, his defense was responsible for 4 of the 10 sacks that Manning had last year. There’s a reason why I’ve included so many pass rush matchups in this post; it’s the only way to beat Manning--disrupt his timing, which isn’t easy because he gets the ball out of his hands so quickly.
That’s what I think of the matchup(s) this week. There are a ton that you could highlight in such an important game, so if you can think of any that are better, leave them in the Comments.