Harken back, if you will, to this time last week, when your humble resident psychic totally called
a 10-point Texans victory Alfred Blue rushing for more than 130 yards Randy Bullock missing a field goal but hitting all of his extra points. Impressive, no? That sort of eerie insight is why you keep coming back, and why I continue to pen this column. I can't possibly quit while I'm ahead, so I give you another three (3) things sure to happen when the Texans play the Falcons on Sunday.
1. Arian Foster will not play. Might as well make that the first prediction so if I'm wrong, you can immediately discard the rest of this post. Not just because it'll be the latest bit of proof that I'm a moron, but because the rest of these predictions are based on the premise that Houston will be without its best offensive player for a fourth game in a row. I believe the fact that the Texans have a short week, with a game against a division rival on Thursday night, will ultimately cause Foster and/or the team to err on the side of caution. If Foster had a full week to recover after Sunday's game, I'd be more bullish about him playing this week. But he doesn't, so I'm not.
Alfred Blue gets the lion's share of the carriers on Sunday and is not able to replicate the success he had against the Buccaneers last week.
2. Atlanta's pass rush is better than it was last year, but I'm encouraged by the idea that the Texans should trot out a starting offensive line of Duane Brown-Oday Aboushi-Ben Jones-Brandon Brooks-Derek Newton. That'll be the best offensive line Houston has featured all season, and I'm confident they'll do a fine job protecting Ryan Mallett. Mallett looked markedly better against Tampa Bay than he did against the Panthers, and I expect him to take another step forward against the Falcons. That doesn't mean he'll be turnover-free, but I do think he'll throw for a TD (to DeAndre Hopkins) and complete more than 62% of his passes.
3. Call me foolish, but I'm really not concerned about the Falcons' rushing attack. I am, however, terrified of Julio Jones. Even with what I'm guessing will be omnipresent safety help, I expect him to catch at least one TD pass and to surpass 100 receiving yards again. I'm having nightmares of him winning multiple jump balls against Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, and/or Rahim Moore.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: I can envision a scenario where the Texans emerge victorious. It involves keeping Atlanta's offense off the field with sustained, time-consuming drives, a couple of big shots down the field from Ryan Mallett (seriously, it has to happen at some point, right?), and unyielding pressure on Matt Ryan that forces a couple of turnovers. This may be a trap game for the Falcons. It can happen, and believing the Texans will win is not grounds for ridicule.
Alas, I think it's more likely that the Texans' offense, sans Arian Foster for one more week, struggles to move the ball consistently and Houston's defense spends far more time on the field than it should. Atlanta can be a tough place for a road team to win, and I feel like the Texans' offense won't be able to take advantage of a Falcons' defense that can be had, particularly in the short middle of the field. Texans 13, Falcons 23.
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