After your Houston Texans held on for their eighth win of the season in Jacksonville last week, I retreated to a dark room in my house. I drew the shades. I moved furniture (bean bag chairs and orange crates count as furniture). I laid a mat down in the center of the room. I sat, Indian-style, on said mat. I closed my eyes. I went to my happy place. I cleared my mind. After the two seconds it took to clear my mind passed, I quietly asked the spirits, "Why didn't you warn me about Matt Leinart's injury? If I had written that in 'Three and Out' two days ago, people would have finally understood that I commune with forces greater than the voices in my head."
My question was met with silence. So I asked again, a little louder this time. Still nothing. Frustrated, I yelled the question. This time, I heard a response.
It was my wife, cursing me for waking the baby. But a minute later, I heard something else. It was barely audible, but I could make it out. What did I hear, you ask?
The voice said, "My bad. I was moving a little slow last Friday. I probably overdid it during the Horns game on Thanksgiving night. I still can't believe Case McCoy got loose like that on that final drive. Anywho, it won't happen again. Unless it does. It's not my job to make you look good. It's not like anyone really believes you know what's going to happen. You're barely literate, much less psychic. C'mon, man. Get over yourself."
Point awarded to the spirit. Nevertheless, I choose to press on. Three things guaranteed (note: the writer makes no guarantees in any way, shape, or form) to happen at Reliant Stadium on Sunday:
1. T.J. Yates is going to struggle, especially on third down. The Falcons are going to make T.J. beat them. While Yates will throw his first two touchdown passes as a professional football player (to Kevin Walter and Andre Johnson), he will also throw the first two interceptions of his professional career. This is not to say that T.J. Yates won't be a fine quarterback. It's just to say that he's a rookie making his first start against a good team. It won't be seamless.
2. In terms of the Houston secondary, I've got some good news and bad news for you. The good news is that Johnathan Joseph will lock down whoever he's covering (presumably Roddy White). The bad news is that means Julio Jones will be covered by a combination of Kareem Jackson and Jason Allen. When Matt Ryan has time to throw, which won't be too terribly often, thanks to Wade Phillips instructing his front seven to give Ryan "The Gabbert Treatment," he will connect for at least two TDs through the air, at least one of which will go to an alarmingly open Julio Jones. It won't be all soft pretzels and Coors Light for Ryan, however; he's going to throw a pick to Glover Quin, and he's going to fumble once, thanks to a leveling from Brian Cushing. That fumble will be recovered by J.J. Watt.
3. With a rookie QB and a dangerous running attack, everyone and their mother knows the Falcons are going to key on the Houston running game. They'll be successful in that approach, I believe, holding the Houston RBs to under 120 rushing yards. Arian Foster will make a bigger splash as a receiver, catching six balls for 54 yards. Sadly, Foster will not find the end zone on Sunday.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: I've gone back and forth on this one a number of times. If Matt Schaub was under center, I'd confidently pick the Texans. While I do believe the Texans' defense and running game means they'll keep it close, I just can't pick T.J. Yates to beat the Falcons in his first start. Falcons 23, Texans 17.Falcons vs Texans coverage