ATLANTA FALCONS (7-4) at HOUSTON TEXANS (8-3)
Sunday, 1:00 P.M. ET, FOX, Direct TV (712), Sirius (Atl 134, Hou 92)
To see how much worst it can get for Houston. Just when the Texans thought they would win the Peyton Manning division, they lose QB Matt Schaub and his replacement, the lightly regarded Matt Leinart. Andre Johnson's return will not keep the Texans from turning themselves into a running team as they nurse QB T.J. Yates along. Yates wears jersey No. 13. Unlucky.
What To Watch
Will Houston have a passing game? Curtis Painter (Colts) and Blaine Gabbert (jaguars) struggle to win for their teams. There is little to suggest that Yates will be any more successful. Fortunately, Houston is a more complete team than Indy or Jacksonville. If they are going to win, their other strengths must come through for them. Coach Gary Kubiak must call for passes that Yates can throw and Johnson must catch any off-target ball thrown to him. The weight of the offense shifts to the legs of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The Texans possess the No. 1 defense for yards per game and allow a mere 31 percent of third down conversions. Keep your eye on LB Brian Cushing.
The Texans have gifts to win, but the Falcons are on a roll. Atlanta won four of their last five games after finding the right balance on offense. It turns out that rookie WR Julio Jones is the icing, not the cake. QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez, who were on the team all along, powered the Falcons recent wins. Jones and RB Michael Turner are listed as Questionable. My fantast football experience taught me that questionable studs show up for games. Atlanta is favored by 3.
Who Will Win
The football smart people expect a close game. This contest, however, will come down to quarterback play. That's not close. Neither will this game. ATLANTA wins big.