March 18, 2018

Texans vs. Panthers: Keys to Victory


With the hay in the barn the AFC South Champion, Houston Texans, still have work to do in the last three games of the season. With the Carolina Panthers coming to town the Texans are facing one of the more potent offenses in the NFL with rookie of the year candidate Cam Newton.


The Texans now must concentrate on getting a first round bye and securing home field advantage. If the Texans can handle their business these last three game they will be in the top spot of the AFC and sitting at Reliant waiting for their first opponent. The challenge starts on Sunday and the Texans will have to pick themselves up after an emotional win in Cincinnati.


1. The Texans must guard against falling flat coming out of the tunnel on Sunday. For the first time all season against the Bengals last week the Texans turned in one of their most disappointing first half of football this season. It will be interesting to see if Gary Kubiak will have his players full throttle from the opening whistle. The emotional let down is something to watch, especially with all of the distractions that have come this past week with the teams first ever franchise playoff appearance. We will see if the Texans will be able to handle the word success.


2. The defense will be put to the test without their leader defensive coordinator Wade Phillips who is recovering from surgery (kidney and gall bladder removal). Linebacker coach Reggie Herring will be calling the defense, and the defense will have to respond to their interim leader for at least the next two games. It will be apparent early in the game if the Texans are off their game, because being ranked the #1 defense in the NFL doesn’t come without hard work. The players must police themselves on the field and continue to do what has made them successful the first 13 games of the season, play Wade Phillips type of defense.


3. The Panthers are loaded offensively and can score quickly when they get going. The Texans must stop Cam Newton, Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart. These four players can be difference makers and can go the distance at anytime and the Texans must eliminate the big play. Out of the four the Texans must stop Newton from be effective on the ground and make him throw the ball. Johnathan Joseph gets the task to cover Steve Smith which should make for a good matchup to watch.


4. If there is anytime to get the running game back on track this might be the game. According to Alan Burge the Panthers have had some health issues on defense. If the Texans can get Arian Foster back on track and sprinkle some Ben Tate in their too, it can help T.J. Yates from shouldering the load. Both Foster (43 yards) and Tate (180 yards) are closing in on the 1,000 yard rushing barrier, and that will be an impressive feat in Texans history. It’s time to get back to being successful on the ground, and the Texans are in a prime situation to have a big day on the ground.


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