Don't Take Them For Granted

The Houston Texans played tough against the Bucs when the two teams met in this year's preseason. This time is for real, and no one in the league needs a win more than the Buccaneers. The Texans are not in the playoff picture, but they will be using this game as a measuring stick for their team. At 5-8, the Texans have played as high above expectations as the Bucs have played below.

The Texans have been carried by rookie running back Domanick Davis, who despite an ankle and quadriceps injury is expected to start on Sunday. Davis is a complete back averaging over four yards a carry and over eight yards per reception. If second year quarterback David Carr can start, the Bucs' defense will have their hands full. Rookie Dave Ragone will get the nod if Carr is not ready, which should allow the Bucs to key on Davis and shut the Texans down.

Before Carr sprained his shoulder he was consistently hooking up with the Texans talented receivers. 2003 third overall pick Andre Johnson out of Miami is the team's leading receiver with 52 catches. Jabbar Gaffney is two years removed from the University of Florida and has been able to stretch the field with his blazing speed. This young tandem of receivers will be able to get deep on the Bucs' depleted secondary if the front four does not apply constant pressure.

Warren Sapp will be a game time decision, and he will be sorely missed if he cannot go. Simeon Rice should have a field day against the Texans patchwork offensive line. If he does not, Houston will win the game.

Thomas Jones should be able to get loose against the Texans, who have had trouble against the run this year. The one two punch that has developed by using Michael Pittman as the pass catcher and Jones as the runner has provided the Bucs with an extra dimension that has contributed to the team's recent success.

If Brad Johnson plays his game and does not force the ball the offense will be able to move down field. The Bucs will not underestimate this team, so the fans should not either. The Texans have been playing inspired football and want to make a statement that they will be team to be reckoned with next year. The Bucs will not be another team's building block. They will win a close game if Martin Gramatica breaks out of his slump. If he does not, even the mathematical chance of a playoff birth will go by the way side.

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