This week the Houston Texans will face their toughest opponent yet this season. Not that the Atlanta Falcons are the best team that the Texans have had to play this year, just that the Texans are entering new territory behind the leadership of rookie QB T.J. Yates. The Texans have played beaten up and battered for most of the 2011 season but this game will prove to be a monumental undertaking.
The Texans defense will have to bring its A-game if they want to keep pace with the offensive weapons brought by the Falcons. Falcons QB Matt Ryan has averaged 262.5 yards per game and has 18 passing TDs this season. With the likes of TE Tony Gonzalez, RB Michael Turner, and WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones the Falcons have amassed seven wins thus far. However, Jones will be out against the Texans and Turner is questionable, meaning that the Falcons offense could be weaker than usual this Sunday.
Defensively the Texans have been a nuisance to opposing quarterbacks. Their 35 sacks over the first 11 games is a franchise record and they will look to improve upon that stat this week behind the likes of OLB Connor Barwin, OLB Brooks Reed, and rookie DE J.J. Watt. The backfield corps, led by CB Johnathan Joseph and FS Danieal Manning, will also have their work cut out for them. Matt Ryan has big-play capability and is accurate with the deep ball.
Perhaps the greatest key to victory for the Texans this week, however, will be establishing the run and play-action pass. The Falcons have the second best rush defense in the league and will look to shut down the Dastardly Duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. If QB T.J. Yates can effectively set up the passing game he will be able to integrate the play-action pass and create all sorts of havoc for the Falcons.
This game should promise to be a great test for both the Texans defense and the leadership and effectiveness of QB T.J. Yates. If the Texans come away with the win expect the news outlets to go crazy. If the Texans lose, though, all is not lost. They still lead the Tennessee Titans by two games in the AFC South and have a three game advantage against division rivals over the Titans.