It's time to begin our look at this week's game by talking about why each team could win this game, in a sports bar-esque way.
3 Reasons Why the Dolphins Will Win:
1. The passing attack will wake up. Eventhough everyone will be hoping for another big game out of Ronnie Brown, the key will be the passing attack for the Dolphins. The Texans are 21st in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 230 yards per game through the air. They also are the 4th worst defense in completion percentage allowed, with opponents completing just under 70% of their passes against Houston. This could be exactly what the doctor ordered for Trent Green and company, as I suspect Houston will be more worried about stopping Brown. This should open up some passing lanes for Green as Chris Chambers and Marty Booker should be able to get open often. In fact, Chambers, in 2 career games against Houston, has 10 catches for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns.
2. The Texans are beat up on offense. Quarterback Matt Schaub has playe well this year. But 2 of his top 3 receivers are banged up and likely wil lnot play this week. Andre Johnson, a top NFL receiver, remains out with a knee injury. Their #3 receiver, Jacoby Jones, is coming back from a seperated shoulder. Head coach Gary Kubiak said Jones has been cleared to practice, but it remains unlikely that he'll be ready to play on Sunday. That means Kevin Walter and Andre Davis will be the starters at wide out for Houston. Neither of them scare me nearly as much as Johnson and Jones would have. Also, starting running back Ahman Green is trying to overcome a knee injury and there's a very good chance he will miss Sunday's game, meaning Ron Dayne will get the start. Last week, Dayne started and picked up just 62 yards against the Falcons. And in 1 career game against Miami, Dayne averaged just 2.6 ypc.
3. The "numbers game." What I mean by this is that you'd figure the Dolphins are due for a win. Not that Houston is a bad team by any stretch of the imagination. But this game is, by all means, a winnable game for the Dolphins. And you have to think that, at some point, the Dolphins will win one of these winnable games. This week could be the week considering the likely return of Zack Thomas to the starting lineup and considering how angry this team has to be following last week's embarrassement.
3 Reasons Why the Texans Will Win:
1. Matt Schaub is pretty damn good. I was one of those who loved the Schaub deal originally. I thought the Texans were getting one hell of a deal. And so far, that's been the case. Schaub has completed 74% of his passes, thrown for over 1,000 yards in 4 games, and has a QB rating of 101.2. Then you look at the numbers for the Dolphins secondary and you see that they aren't half bad, either. Their 2nd in pass yards allowed and 2nd in completion percentage allowed. But this numbers are skewed because of how teams are just running it down Miami's throats play after play. Here's a stat for you. The Dolphins are 17th in the NFL in yards allowed per attempt and 20th in QB rating allowed. What that means is that this secondary may not be giving up a lot of yards each game, but they are allowing big plays in the passing game, including 6 passing touchdowns allowed in 4 games. This could be an issue.
2. The Texans' rush defense is pretty friggin good. I talked about this a little earlier and I think it's something that needs revisiting. The Texans currently are 6th in the NFL in rush yards allowed per game at 80 and tied for 4th in the NFL in yards allowed per carry at just 3.4. This could mean a long day for Ronnie in his quest to become just the 2nd NFL player in history to record 200 yards from scrimmage in 3 consecutive games. This defense has a very good front 7 led by rising star DeMeco Ryans at middle linebacker. He's a run-stopping machine and is going to create issues for the ground game for sure. Miami's offensive line better be ready because they are going to get a very tough test in Houston. If nothing else, we're going to find out if this line is as improved as they seem to be on Sunday.
3. The Dolphins' rush defense will continue to absolutely suck. I'm not trying to say Ron Dayne is very good or anything because I don't think he is. But these past 4 weeks have been long ones for this Miami defense, as they seem to get pushed back off the line of scrimmage 2 or 3 yards every single play. Now Vonnie Holliday is out and Rod Wright will be asked to make his first career start. Meanwhile, Channing Crowder and Zach Thomas are both question marks, though it looks like Zach will probably play. In all honesty, and it pains me to say this, there isn't any reason for me to be hopeful that this rush defense will be any better on Sunday.