San Diego Chargers at Houston Texans
By: Mitch Light | 11/5/10, 1:00 AM EDT
Since the beginning of the season, the Texans have been consistently inconsistent. After winning their first two games, they have alternated losses and wins. All three defeats have been by 13 points or more, while the wins have come with late-game heroics. The Chargers got of to their typically sluggish start but appear to be climbing out their early season hole. They looked very good last week in beating the Titans.
Keys for the Texans
• The secondary is once again huge for the Texans this week. A strong first half against quarterback Peyton Manning in which the defense allowed only 97 passing yards and one touchdown wasn’t enough to beat the Colts on Monday Night Football. And this week, things don’t get any easier against Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who has thrown for 2,649 yards, more than any quarterback in NFL history through eight games.
• As the secondary makes improvements, the passing game continues to falter. Against Indy, Matt Schaub was a disappointment, going 22-of-38 for 201 yards with one touchdown and one costly interception that seemed to set the momentum. Schaub will need to lead the Texans with consistency and make quality decisions in order to overcome a balanced Chargers defense that is fourth against the pass and fifth against the run
Keys for the Chargers
• For the Chargers offense, everything starts and ends with Rivers. He’s always going to put up the big yards, considering his season-low was his opening-week 279-yard performance. But keep an eye on his accuracy and his yards-per-attempt; the Chargers are 0-4 when Rivers’ passer rating is below 100 and 3-1 when he tops 100. Against the youngest secondary in the league, expect Rivers to be at his absolute best.
• When opportunity knocks for the Chargers, they have to take advantage. Their offense ranks first in the NFL in total yardage, but they only rank 16th in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Settling for field goals might not work against the Texans. Keep in mind that Houston is first in the league in red zone touchdown-scoring percentage.
The Texans showed some signs of improvement against the pass last week in Indy, but they figure to have a tough time slowing down Rivers and the San Diego attack. Chargers 31-24.