A marquee matchup between two of the top talented running backs in the NFL today comes to your television this Sunday. When the 3-1 Houston Texans host the 2-2 Oakland Raiders from Reliant stadium. Running back Darren McFadden leads the way the Raiders and for Texans running back Arian Foster will be the flashy stars but other warriors on the field will most likely make the differences in the game.
Texans will be prepared for what’s coming at them but the Raiders running game may just enhance the Raiders passing game even more. The Texans will do what it takes with Mario Williams, Brian Cushing and rookie JJ Watt at defense end to rush Jason Campbell and stop the running game.
The Raiders will insist on pounding the ball as planned by head coach Hue Jackson but on the other side of the ball the Raiders defense needs to stop Foster and young talented running back Ben Tate combination otherwise it will just be a mismatch of quick scoring up and down game with little to know defense. For the Raiders defense to fix this each and every player needs to recognize every assignment on each position, this will play a major role in slowing down the running game of the Texans.
This Oakland team may not be the Raiders of yester-year with Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson but this running game does have great punch the can place fear in opponents eyes if they become careless. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is already fearing the worst and calls the 2-2 Raiders with McFadden "a totally different challenge than what we've faced so far." As a team, Oakland is gaining almost 180 rushing yards per game, most in the league. The Raiders have nine rushing touchdowns. No other team has more than five.
At the present time, Houston’s rushing defense hasn't been throughly tested. The first four opponents have gone at them on the ground only 22 times per game, among the fewest in the league. Those carries, however, have advanced the football nearly 5 yards on average, therefore the Raiders surely see a wide opportunity for McFadden and others to run all over Texans every chance they get.
On the other hand the Texans running game is not so bad themselves as good and could take advantage of the Raiders defense. Houston’s running force is led by Foster, who led the league in 2010 in rushing yards and he represents a overpower strength the Oakland defense must contain if they are to win the game Sunday.
The run defense so far this season is the weakness ranking 29th in the NFL in yards allowed per carry (5.9) and even more in their two losses to the Bills and Patriots. Jackson points out his team did stop the run fairly well in two games the Raiders won over the Broncos and Jets, where the teams combined to rush for 138 yards on 38 carries (3.6 average).However, in the team losses to the Bills and Patriots, the Raiders gave up a combined 400 yards on 55 carries (7.3 average) making them look even worse.
Injuries to players like Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy will not help. Captain of the defense Richard Seymour knows that he and his defensive unit need to be more on top out of the gate with the Texans and not get caught up in the head games that cost his team penalties like he himself did against the Patriots last week early in the game. If the Raiders defense begins the game well and contains Foster and Tate, and force quarterback Matt Schabb to throw the ball the Raiders will have a better chance of winning the game.
In Reliant stadium the Silver and Black usually get cough up in themselves. I don't see this happening this time around the Raiders will be prepared. They’ll devote enough time to control, Arian Foster to contain the run game. Andre Johnson won’t be around to terrorize the secondary. I truly look for a bounce back week from Jackson’s squad, with the Raiders keeping it close and most likely winning the battle.