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Eagles vs Texans - House of Pain 2?


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It's been 15 years since the Eagles last traveled to Houston. The last time was the infamous "house of pain game" in which the Eagles' vaunted defense in the early 90s brutalized the Houston Oilers, physically battering them and holding a good team that nicknamed their stadium "The House of Pain" to 6 points. Jerome Brown's famous quote as he walked off the field, "They brought the house, we brought the pain."

They return to Houston to face a considerably less formidable opponent this time around in the Houston Texans. The worst team in the NFL last year, the Texans selected DE Mario Williams to help bolster their pass rush. Many had assumed that the Texans would pick USC RB Reggie Bush or even OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson to help bolster their poor offensive line. So far in the preseason,
Williams has not distinguished himself and their starting RB Domanick Davis is out for the year.

In place of Davis, the Texans will start rookie 6th round pick Wali Lundy at RB.
Along their offensive line who has given 208 sacks in David Carr's first 4 years, they will be starting rookie 3rd round pick Charles Spencer. Spencer will have the job of facing Jevon Kearse.

The Texans do boast 2 pretty good WRs in Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds. The question will be whether Carr ever has a chance to get them the ball. Texans coach Gary Kubiak was famous in Denver for his for blocking schemes, but it's hard to see what he will be able to do against the Eagles new sack happy defense which registered over 20 sacks in the preseason. He has a lack of talent and unproven rookies on the offensive line and his starting RB who has twice rushed for over 1,000 yards and could keep pass rushes honest is out. It's hard to see how the Eagles' defense shouldn't dominate the Texans.

The Eagles' offense is still somewhat of an unknown. We've all seen how well McNabb has looked in the preseason and his presence alone should be enough to beat the Texans, but there's a lot for the offense to prove. How will Westbrook look after missing 4 preseason games? Will Buckhalter continue the to show the improvement he did in the preseason? Finally, what will Donte Stallworth do in his first game(real or exhibition) as an Eagle?

The Texans have one good corner in Dunta Robinson, who you would assume will be matched up with Stall
worth. While he's a good player, Robinson is not an elite corner and should provide a good but winnable matchup for Stallworth. This should mean lots of opportunities for Reggie Brown.

In addition to rookie Mario Williams, the Eagles should look to exploit rookie MLB Demeco Ryans. It'll be interesting to see how he fares if the Eagles continue to run up the middle as they did in the preseason.

I'll also have a close eye on the special teams. The Eagles coverage teams looked fine in the preseason, but they showed very little in the return game. Bruce Perry will be returning kicks and thanks to an injury to Reno Mahe it looks like Lito Sheppard will be returning punts. Brian Westbrook may also be called on to return a few punts in certain situations. If Lito can show them something returning punts, he may make Mahe expendable...

In the end, the Texans are not a very good team. Gary Kubiak is a smart coach that should steer that franchise in the right direction, but this is just the very start of that. He has a long way to go. The Eagles have no excuses here. Their new look defensive line should dominate the Texans O-Line and harass David Carr all day. I can see 4 sacks. McNabb and the offense should at least score a few TDs against a Texans D that is better than their offense, but still not very good.

My prediction - Eagles 24 Texans 10


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