Raiders-Texans Preview

Coming off a heartbreaking last second loss on the road, the Raiders hope to bounce back with one at home against the Houston Texans. The Texans continue to move up the ladder and have some impressive wins over the Colts and Redskins in 2010. Still, they are not without their weaknesses. S&BI brings you the Week 4 preview.

GAME INFO

-- The Oakland Raiders host the Houston Texans in their Week 4 matchup.

-- Kickoff is set for 1:05pm PT. Game time temperature is predicted at 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a 10 percent change of precipitation.

-- The game will be broadcast on CBS. The broadcast team will be Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker.

-- The Texans are 2-1 and are coming off their first loss of the season—a 27-13 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.

-- In Week 2, quarterback Matt Schaub threw for a career high 497 yards against the Washington Redskins. On the year, he has 845 passing yards and has thrown five touchdowns to four interceptions. He is averaging 281.7 yards per game and 8.4 yards per completion.

-- Schaub has been stellar on the road. Since the start of the 2008 season, he has averaged a league-best 304.1 yards passing on the road. Second on the list is Drew Brees (287.2).

-- Rookie running back is one of the talks of the league. He leads the league in rushing with 406 yards. Of course, Foster exploded onto the season in a Week 1 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts: 231 yards rushing with three touchdowns on the ground.

-- Foster also leads in yards from scrimmage with 502 and has produced a league-leading 27 first downs.

-- Foster needs 94 more yards on the ground and four more receiving yards to become only the third player in league history to have at least 500 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards through the first four games of a season.

-- The Texans lead the all-time series record, 4-1. They have outscored the Raiders 122-81 in those five games.

-- Last year, the Raiders lost 29-6 to the Texans at Reliant Stadium. Schaub went 11-22 for 224 yards and threw a touchdown and an interception apiece. Steve Slaton ran for 65 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He also caught a touchdown pass. Backup running back Ryan Moats ran for 56 yards on 15 carries. Andre Johnson finished with two catches for 66 yards.

-- The last time the Texans traveled to Oakland was in Week 16 of 2008. The Raiders won that game 27-16. JaMarcus Russell had arguably the best game of his career, throwing for 236 yards and two touchdowns on 18 of 25 passing. Justin Fargas ran for 93 yards on 22 carries. For the Texans, Schaub threw for 255 yards and an interception on 19 of 36 passing. Andre Johnson was held to only 19 yards on two catches.

-- Since Schaub became the starter in 2007, Andre Johnson has averaged a league-best 97.3 receiving yards per game. In his first four seasons with David Carr at quarterback, Johnson averaged 64.8 receiving yards per game.

-- Gary Kubiak is in his fifth year as head coach of the Texans. He has compiled a career record off 33-34. In Kubiak's first season in 2006, the Texans finished 6-10. Since then, the Texans have not finished any worse than 8-8, including a 9-7 finish last year.

-- Kubiak is 3-1 all-time against the Raiders. He is 2-1 in games in Oakland. Against Tom Cable, Kubiak is 1-1.

INJURIES

-- For the Raiders:

Out: G Robert Gallery (hamstring), LB Travis Goethel (back), WR Chaz Schilens (knee).

Questionable: FS Hiram Eugene (hamstring), DT John Henderson (foot), CB Chris Johnson (neck, ankle), CB Walter McFadden (hamstring).

Probable LB Ricky Brown (hamstring), RB Michael Bush (thumb), DE Richard Seymour (hamstring).

-- For the Texans:

Out: LB Kevin Bentley (knee).

Doubtful: FS Eugene Wilson (hamstring).

Questionable: TE Owen Daniels (hamstring), WR Andre Johnson (ankle), LB Darryl Sharpton (ankle).

Probable: LB Xavier Adibi (hamstring), MLB DeMeco Ryans (quadriceps), DE Mario Williams (groin).

RAIDERS OFFENSE VS TEXANS DEFENSE

Defense has been a major concern for these Houston Texans.

Through the first three weeks of the 2010 season, the Texans defense is giving up an average of 423 yards per game—second worst in the NFL. The difference between run and pass defense is staggering, however.

Against the run, the Texans have only allowed an average of 54.3 yards. On the flip side, they are allowing a league-high 368.7 yards per game through the air.

Granted, they've gone up against some pretty good quarterbacks in Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo. But regardless, that number is staggering.

Those numbers don't necessarily play into the Raiders' favor, however. So far, Darren McFadden has paved the way for the offense. McFadden is third in the league with 345 rushing yards and has passed the century mark in his past two games—a first in his career.

However, the strength of the Texans defense is definitely the front seven. Even without suspended outside linebacker Brian Cushing, the Texans feature a good mix of some marquee names and solid bodies.

Mammoth defensive end Mario Williams is off to a blistering start with four sacks and 11 quarterback hits. On the opposite side, Antonio Smith is finally 100 percent after suffering from a viral infection last week. He and Williams are both stout against the run. Former first round pick Amobi Okoye teams with Shaun Cody to form a solid interior duo. It won't get any easier for McFadden at the second level, as he will have to deal with one of the league's best in middle linebacker, DeMeco Ryans. Outside linebacker Zac Diles leads the team with 21 tackles and Xavier Adibi fills in for Cushing at the strongside spot.

It's almost unbelievable that the Texans have struggled so mightily against the pass considering the presence of Williams. That being said, it won't exactly be a cake walk for Bruce Gradkowski.

Assuredly, Gradkowski will find plenty of pressure on Sunday as the Raiders have no answer for Williams. At this point, it's unlikely to expect the combination of Mario Henderson and Jared Veldheer to have any sort of astronomical rise in performance. Gradkowski will have to do what he does best, and that's getting the ball out quickly and buying however much time he can to do so.

Don't be surprised if Zach Miller stays on the line more often to provide extra protection. However, ultimately and as always, Miller will be a key target for Gradkowski.

Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey have played at a high level since the quarterback change, but they're going to need to take it up a notch to help Gradkowski in this one. The Raiders are going up against a young and inexperienced secondary.

The Texans start second-year man Glover Quin at one corner spot with first round rookie Kareem Jackson at the other. With free safety Eugene Wilson likely out, fifth-year pro and former Kansas City Chief Bernard Pollard is the elder statesman of the bunch at strong safety.

Advantage: TEXANS

RAIDERS DEFENSE VS TEXANS OFFENSE

Last week's marquee matchup was between Nnamdi Asomugha and Larry Fitzgerald. If Fitzgerald isn't the best wide receiver in the NFL, then Andre Johnson is probably that guy

Johnson has been bothered by a sore ankle for a couple of weeks now, and there's been some talk in Houston that Kubiak should rest his start wide receiver in this matchup—in three games against the Raiders, Johnson has only five catches for 94 yards and zero touchdowns.

Still, Johnson is one of the toughest wide receivers out there, and far be it from him to back down from the challenge that Asomugha provides.

If Johnson is a no-go, the Texans have a very good number two option in Kevin Walter. Walter is more than just a solid possession receiver. He also has a nose for the endzone with three touchdowns to his credit.

Of course, the guy who makes it all work is Matt Schaub. In the Texans offense, Schaub does a spectacular job of moving the chains through the short-intermediate passing game. Schaub is third among NFL quarterbacks in completion percentage at 69.3 percent so he doesn't miss his targets often.

However, while he has racked up the yards, Schaub has also turned the ball over four times, all by interceptions.

The offensive line hasn't don't much to help Schaub as he has been sacked 11 times this season—tied for the league high along with Michael Vick. Although the Raiders have put up some good sack numbers this season (7), they haven't necessarily maintained that pass pressure.

Richard Seymour, Matt Shaughnessy and company are going to have to turn it up a notch against Schaub and his offensive line. Considering the Texans brand of offense, the more time Schaub has, the more likely he will be able to pick apart the Raiders secondary.

Of course, the elephant in the room is second-year running back Arian Foster. Foster is leading the league in rushing with 406 yards—231 of which came in Week 1 against the Colts. Foster hasn't scored a touchdown since his three in Week 1, but expect the Titans to give the Raiders a heavy dose of Foster and his backup Steve Slaton.

Advantage: TEXANS

SPECIAL TEAMS

Normally, this should be the Raiders' forte. But after last week's debacle against the Cardinals, Sebastian Janikowski's early season struggle is disconcerting. In three games, Janikowski has already missed five field goals. In all of last season, he only missed three total.

Shane Lechler is Shane Lechler and there's nothing worth mentioning in this department.

The Texans have two reliable veterans in kicker Neil Rackers an punter Matt Turk.

Rackers is in his first year with the Texans after the past seven with the Cardinals. So far on the year, he is 7 of 8 on field goals with a long of 49 yards. His career long is from 55 yards. Matt Turk is in his 15th year in the league and his fourth with the Texans. Although he doesn't have a big leg—a career high average of 45.1 yards—he's got an accurate one.

The Texans have a solid return team, headlined by Jacoby Jones. Jones is an explosive return man who has ran back two punts and a kickoff for a touchdown. He handles both duties. Backup running back Steve Slaton is the other kickoff return man.

Advantage: TEXANS

OUTCOME & PREDICTION

After last weekend's heartbreaking loss, the Raiders could really use a big one this Sunday. The Texans are the definite favorites and rightfully so.

Do the Raiders have a chance? Certainly.

Even though this Titans team but the Colts, they have considerable weaknesses that the Raiders have the talent to exploit. That being said, as it has been an issue for the Raiders the past seven years, will they be able to capitalize on it?

On defense, the team desperately needs to get to Matt Schaub and put him on the ground—plain and simple. The Raiders can-absolutely-not allow Schaub to sit in the pocket and have time to pick them apart.

On offense, Gradkowski won't get much help from his offensive line. But he's shown a penchant for the deep ball, and if there were any game to do, this would be the time for Darrius Heyward-Bey to break a big one down the sideline.

Things are on the rise. A change is coming. But not this week.

Texans 24

Raiders 16

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