With The Ball Preview: Jets v. Texans

The weekly look at what to expect when the New Yorks Jets and the Houston Texans each have the ball.

Mark Sanchez was impressive in his career-opener last year in a 24-7 victory over the Texans. The second-year quarterback has an opportunity to go 2-0 when Houston (4-5) visits the Jets (7-2) Sunday at 1 p.m.

WHEN THE TEXANS HAVE THE BALL: Here's the thing. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson get recognized as the duo that makes Houston's offense go. But the fact is with running back Arian Foster and a better-than-advertised offensive line, the Texans are second in the NFL in yards-per-carry average (5.0). The Jets are ranked fifth in the league against the run, but they haven't faced a rushing attack like Houston's. Here are the Jets' prior opponents' rankings in yards-per-carry average: Denver Broncos (32, 3.2), Detroit Lions (31, 3.4), Miami Dolphins (T-21, 3.8), Baltimore Ravens (T-21, 3.8), New England Patriots (16, 4.1), Green Bay Packers (T-13, 4.2), Cleveland Browns (T-13, 4.2), Buffalo Bills (9, 4.3) and Minnesota Vikings (7, 4.5)… Schaub will test New York with Houston's potent air attack, but the Jet defenders will earn their money trying to hold Foster to a low per-carry average.

WHEN THE JETS HAVE THE BALL: It's time for Sanchez to have some fun with all of the talented route-runners donning the green and white. Houston is downright deplorable against the pass, allowing opposing quarterbacks rack up an average quarterback rating of 110.2. Also, the Texans are the only team to give up more than 300 yards per game through the air. Santonio Holmes finally hauled in his first touchdown catch as a Jet last week, and it was a big one. Braylon Edwards is disproving a pass-dropping reputation, and even Shonn Greene is starting to find his hands. If Houston somehow slows down New York's pass offense, the Jets can go to their bread-and-butter ground game to keep Houston's offense off the field. It's hard to imagine the Texans doing anything on defense.

THE X-FACTOR: The Jets' linebacker coverage on outside rushes and short passes. With Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie on lockdown outside and Sione Pouha and Mike Devito doing a stellar job clogging the middle, it will be up the New York's linebackers to keep Foster from breaking big gains around the outside.

Nick's picking: Jets win easily, 31-14.


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