Houston Texans (4-2) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
With the Tennessee Titans at 5-2 at the up-and-down Jacksonville Jaguars not far behind, this is a huge battle in terms of AFC South supremacy. And if the first game of 2010 was any indication, both teams know what the other wants to do to emerge the victor.
The Colts must know that the Texans want to run the ball down their collective throats. Houston improved to 2-15 all-time against Indianapolis with a 34-24 victory on opening day, behind RB Arian Foster’s career highs of 33 carries, 231 yards rushing and three touchdowns – all in the second half – on the ground. Since then, the Colts haven’t done much to shore up their shoddy run defense — they’re ranked 26th against the run, allowing 137.3 yards per game. That’s not a good trend heading into Monday night, especially with Foster looming. The former University of Tennessee standout is third in the NFL with an average of 105.8 rushing yards per contest.
As for the Texans, they must know that the Colts want to throw the ball. Peyton Manning has been his usual stellar self this season and should take advantage of a Texans secondary that has been burned all year. Houston ranks last in the NFL in total defense (410.5 yards per game) and were lit up by Manning for 463 yards of total offense in the season opener. The Colts will be without two of their top receivers in TE Dallas Clark and WR Austin Collie, so look for big days from WRs Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) at Dallas Cowboys (1-5)
Not in our wildest dreams would we imagine a Week 8 contest between these two teams featuring Todd Bouman versus Jon Kitna at QB. But that’s exactly where we are, a testament to how disappointing the 2010 regular season has been for the Jags and ‘Boys.
Now, the possibility remains that David Garrard will have sufficiently recovered (concussion) to play on Sunday…but do the Jaguars want that? Garrard has been average at best this year and Bouman looked decent against Kansas City last weekend, throwing for 222 yards and two TDs.
As for the other backup QB in this match up — it’s Jon Kitna, and that might not actually be so bad a thing. Granted, he’s nowhere near the level of Tony Romo, but the Cowboys did play some inspired football in front of him during last Monday’s loss to New York. Kitna went 16 of 33 for 187 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns to Dez Bryant, but asking him to do much more than that is a tall order. Sadly, the Cowboys need that tall order and more — they’re looking to become the first team since the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals to start 1-5 and then make the playoffs.