The Houston Texans return home to face the Arizona Cardinals in week 11. Just a few days ago the keys for this Sunday’s game were entirely different. Arizona made a change at quarterback and it has changed the outlook for the matchup.
1. Attack the Arizona Secondary
The Cardinals defense is allowing the 10th-most passing yards per game with 245.1. While Tom Savage is not a great quarterback by any means however facing this defense should provide him with an opportunity for a good outing. Any quarterback facing a secondary that allows this many yards per game should put together an adequate performance. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller must be involved from the start for the Texans to have a chance to win.
2. Do not panic if Blaine Gabbert passes frequently
This goes against the Texans strengths on defense but there is a reason. Blaine Gabbert has not attempted a pass since last season. Gabbert completed 56.9 percent of his passes for 925 yards for five touchdowns and six interceptions for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. Last season was right on target with his performance, Gabbert has only completed 56 percent of his passes in his career. Facing a quarterback who is yet to take a single snap this season should provide Houston with a chance to get away with their overall sub-par defense. Manufacturing pressure from all over the defense and playing tight on the Arizona receivers should get the job done Sunday.
3. Keep Adrian Peterson in check
In week 9 Adrian Peterson rushed 37 times for 159 yards against San Francisco. The following Thursday facing Seattle, Peterson rushed 21 times for 29 yards. The short week had a major effect. Since it has been roughly a week and a half since they last played Peterson should have plenty of rest and be ready to take on the porous Houston defense. The Texans must ensure that Peterson does not get going on Sunday because he has shown he is still capable of having a big day on the ground.
4. Run the ball
Last week the Texans only rushed 25 times for 89 yards. This is unacceptable for a team without their dynamic rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman and Alfred Blue must combine for 30 rushing attempts or more for Houston to stand a chance. If Houston falls behind and has to play catch-up they will be in trouble. A proper balance of run and pass will be the best way to win on Sunday.
5. Keep the pressure off of Tom Savage
While the Arizona Cardinals pass rush is not an imposing unit, they are more than capable of pressuring a quarterback. Their 23 sacks on the season rank 14th in the NFL this season and this could provide issues for Houston’s lackluster offensive line. The Texans quarterbacks have been sacked a combined 31 times, fourth most in the league. Arizona will be able to pressure Savage early and often all game long. It will be up to Houston to put together a proper blocking scheme to protect Savage and keep him upright.
Arizona is in just as bad as a situation as Houston. Injuries have derailed a promising season for Houston and took the wind out of Arizona’s sails. Both teams have been rendered quite one dimensional, both are dependent on the running game. Defensively they are both quite poor in pass defense. In a matchup of teams that have trouble passing, it could end up being a field goal frenzy in Houston this weekend.
Follow James Mastrucci on Twitter @Jimmmitude