For both the Houston Texans and the Philadelphia Eagles, this game is a must-win. A win tonight would allow Philadelphia to keep their lead in the NFC East, while if the Texans lose they will fall two games behind the division leader if Jacksonville or Indianapolis wins on Sunday. This game will likely see two major aerial assaults taking place. Michael Vick will look to exploit the Texans' horrendous secondary with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, while Matt Schaub will be enjoying a weakened Eagles' defensive backfield if Asante Samuel misses the game.
The key to this game is going to be the Texans' ability to pressure Vick. The Bears did this successfully and even forced Vick into throwing his first interception of the season. However, the Texans will be challenged in emulating this formula because even if they contain Vick in the pocket, he will likely be able to easily find a receiver open against Houston's defensive backs.
Trends and Tidbits
- Speaking of the Texans, it is absolutely ridiculous how easily Andre Johnson has been let off of the hook for his role in his fight with Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan clearly instigated the incident, but if Johnson had let it go, it would have ended with a fifteen-yard hands to the face penalty. Instead, Johnson retaliated by ripping Finnegan's helmet off and repeatedly punching Finnegan's unprotected head. After the play, Johnson shoved aside a referee's hand, which alone is worth an ejection and a penalty. Out of all the teams in the league, the Titans should definitely be complaining about the inequity in Johnson's treatment. In 2006, Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was suspended for five games after stomping on the helmetless head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode. While Johnson's punches aren't as bad as a stomp to the head, the Haynesworth suspension set a precedent that would suggest Johnson should be suspended for a game, or even two. If the roles were reversed and ANY defensive player did that to any receiver, the defensive player would have definitely been suspended. With equal suspensions for Finnegan and Johnson, the league did nothing to change the perception that it protects its star players unfairly. For those of you inclined to be harsher on Finnegan because he instigated the event, feel free to name a time in your life past the third grade when "he started it" functioned as a legitimate excuse.
- The Titans' controversial signing of Randy Moss, which I was strongly against, turned into a non-story, not just because of their quarterback problems, but because Moss has not been a major factor at all.
- The Lions, Chargers and the Bills are three teams with bad records that don't accurately reflect their recent performances. The Lions held even with the Patriots for a good three quarters before New England pulled away with a big win. The Bills won 2 of their last 3 after previously being winless, and they forced the Pittsburgh Steelers into overtime before losing by a field goal. As for the Chargers, they've gotten extremely hot as of late, and may be poised to take over the AFC West late in the season. - Hank Koebler, IV
Hank is a sports journalist attending the University of Missouri's school of journalism.
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