The Oakland Raiders travel to take on the Houston Texans Sunday riding a two game losing streak and eight consecutive road losses. The Texans have dropped their last seven games. Both teams are in serious need of a win.
Oakland could be without starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who is battling a sprained MCL in his knee. Pryor played with the injury in last week's loss to the New York Giants and the affects were obvious. He has been able to practice Thursday and Friday on a limited basis and looks to be a game time decision. If he can not go, undrafted rookie Matt McGloin will make his first career NFL start.
This situation is not ideal for the Raiders or McGloin. The Houston defense is tops in the league in yardage allowed. They have the best pass defense in the NFL allowing only 166.6 yards per game. The Raiders offensive line may get right tackle Tony Pashos back this week, but the it is far from stellar. That all spells trouble for McGloin, who does not have Pryor's athletic ability to elude pressure. Texan's defensive end J.J. Watt is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and will provide a match-up nightmare for the Raiders up front.
Running back Darren McFadden will miss his second straight game with a lingering hamstring injury. Rashad Jennings has made the most of his opportunities in McFadden's absence. If McGloin is under center, Jennings will be relied upon heavily. The Texans are middle of the pack against the run, allowing 113.4 yards per game.
The Texans have running back injuries of their own. Starter Arian Foster is on the injured reserve with a back injury. Back-up Ben Tate is dealing with broken ribs, but continues to play. The Raiders need to contain this battered running game and turn Houston one dimensional on offense. Since Matt Schaub went down with injury and Case Keenum took over at quarterback, the Texans have been a better offense. Keenum has thrown the ball 77 times in the last two games.
Keenum has filled in extremely well for Schaub. He has started three games and has thrown for 822 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. He realizes that he has a stud wide receiver in Andre Johnson and pumps him the football. In the last two games, Johnson has been targeted 25 times. He has caught 14 of those balls for 266 yards and five touchdowns. Raiders' cornerback Mike Jenkins will be tasked with covering Johnson. The Texans will move Johnson into the slot, so Phillip Adams and Tracy Porter will also see time on Johnson. Rookie first round pick DJ Hayden will miss his second consecutive game groin injury. Keenum loves to go to Johnson down the field so that is something the Raiders defense needs to be cognizant of.
Most defensive coordinators like to blitz younger quarterback and that will be the philosophy of Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. Tarver likes to bring the blitz week in and week out. Keenum has been sacked nine times in the three starts. Defensive end Lamarr Houston is the Raiders best option along the front four to get pressure. Keenum does have some mobility and the Texans like to bootleg and roll out the young quarterback. As is the case every week, the Raiders pass rush will play a huge part in the outcome.
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