Are the Books Making a Broadway Blunder?

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October 16, 2003
Are the Books Making a Broadway Blunder? by Keith Weiland

Lo and behold, the Texans are yet again three point home underdogs to an incoming opponent with a worse record. Did the Jacksonville win mean nothing to these wiseguys?

Forget for a moment that the Houston Texans are a season removed from expansion status. Sunday’s game features a 2-3 home team hosting a 1-4 visitor. That alone should be enough to raise an eyebrow or two around the sportsbooks (or around places where one might consider such things for exhibition purposes only).

Now, add to that the fact that the home team also has the top-ranked offense in the conference. Surprised? The Texans are averaging over 352 yards per game. That’s more than the unbeaten Chiefs, and it’s more than visiting Jets, who are near the bottom of the AFC at fourteenth.

And Houston’s conference-leading offense is looking to get even better this week. The Texans are expected to promote rookie running back Dominick Davis to starter in favor of veteran Stacey Mack. Davis, previously considered a change of pace back, even leapfrogs supplemental pick, Tony Hollings, on the team depth chart.

So what else is askew in those Vegas odds? The Jets enter the game minus their starting quarterback, Chad Pennington, who was injured during the preseason, and their ineffective running back, Curtis Martin, who asked to be benched a week ago. With the next-to-last rushing offense in the conference, that means New York must rely on a relic, Vinny Testaverde, and a piecemeal receiving corps more than they should to win the game.

The Texans, meanwhile, hope to showcase their healthy quarterback and young receiving corps en route to evening their won-loss record at three. Maybe then they might earn a little Vegas respect?

Don’t bet on it.

What to Expect When the Texans have the ball…
Davis gets the rock first out of the Texan backfield. Raise your hand if you saw this coming. (Put your hand down Dominick.) Yeah, I thought so. With Davis in the backfield, the Texans offense has been it’s most unpredictable. And if you think the Texans offensive line is still subpar, consider that Davis is averaging almost five yards per carry behind it. Think that might open up the passing game this week? What if I also told you that the Jets secondary was hurting, missing FS Jon McGraw and CB Donnie Abraham?

When the Jets have the ball…
The Texans looked out of sorts on defense last week, but expect that to change at home against a much weaker Jet offense. The Texans’ 3-4 scheme is forcing teams to put the ball in the air, and the Jets passing game pales in comparison to the Titans. While the Texans had matchup problems in the secondary last week, the Jet trio of Santana Moss, Wayne Chrebet, and Curtis Conway has less speed and ability. They are a veteran bunch, however, and if their backfield can get anything established, it will be another long day for Texans defense.

Match-Ups to Watch Marlon McCree vs. the Jet receivers
Davis isn’t the only new face in the starting lineup this week. McCree, the midseason pickup from the Jaguars, is expected to (finally) take over the free safety spot from Matt Stevens. McCree hopes to upgrade a pass defense unit that has blown deep coverage and taken poor angles on ballcarriers in recent weeks. The big question regarding McCree is whether he’s had enough time to learn the 3-4 defense and make the proper adjustments before the snap of the football.

Steve McKinney vs. Jason Ferguson
The Texans center will have his hands full this week with a developing Jet defensive line. Nose tackle Ferguson was last week’s AFC Defensive Player of the Week after collecting six tackles, two passes defensed, two sacks, and a forced fumble against the Bills. He anchors a crew with the likes of John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, Bryan Thomas, and rookie DeWayne Robertson.

Antwan Peek vs Jason Fabini
The Texans pass rush has found getting to the quarterback to be a much tougher task than they thought it would be this year. With six sacks on the season, they are dead last in the AFC. The Jets, meanwhile, lead the conference in giving up the fewest sacks (four). Can Peek make it past Fabini to put Testaverde into the Reliant turf?

Three Keys to Victory 1. Protect David Carr
The Texans offensive line has shown vast improvement in the sacks allowed category, but the Jets know how to get into an offensive backfield. After notching seven sacks against the Bills, the Jets now lead the league in sacks per pass play. The line will face perhaps their toughest test to date, and if they fail, the offense may never get on track.

2. Don’t Give Up the Deep Pass Santana Moss is averaging almost fifteen yards per reception. He may not be as talented as some of the wideouts the Texans have faced this season, but he can still embarrass a good secondary. The Texan safeties will need to watch their deep zones more closely than they have in recent weeks.

3. Play All Four Quarters
The Texans have yet to really put together four consecutive quarters of solid football. They face a team this week coming off just its first win and problems of its own. If the Texans can capitalize on the Jets’ mistakes and keep the pressure on Testaverde, then this could be their most complete game to date. If they come out flat in the second half as they did against the Saints, Chiefs, and Jaguars, then that won’t be the case.

Views on the Game Saints   Bob says: Could Houston go 2-0 against New York or is that being too much like the Cowboys? It’ll be close but I’ll take V-v-v-v-inny and the Jets. Jets 24, Texans 23 Saints   Dave says: At the risk of jinxing it, Sunday is Domanick Davis’ coming-out party. Texans 24 Jets 17 Saints   Jimmy says: J-E-T-S S-U-C-K. Texans 24, Jets 20 Saints   Keith says: Testaverde and Martin, still clinging to 1998 glory, are fresh out of wrinkle cream. Texans 24, Jets 13 Saints   Ric says: No fan interference needed; Texans win outright. Texans 17, Jets 6 Saints   Warren says: The sibling rivalry angle — the Texans are undefeated in games in which the opponent has a Texan player’s younger brother on the roster. Texans 24, Jets 21 2003 Regular Season Records
Bob 4-1; Dave 4-1; Jimmy 3-2; Keith 4-1;
Ric 3-2; Warren 4-1
Week 6 Preview New York Jets
2003 Record: (1-4)
10.19.03 | 3:05pm
Houston , TX Texan Leaders David Carr
99/172, 1251 yds, 5/8 Stacey Mack
73/211 yds, 2.9 YPC, 1TD Andre Johnson
28/395 yds, 14.1 YPC, 2TD Jet Leaders Vinny Testaverde
101/158, 1091 yds, 5/2 Curtis Martin
81/274 yds, 3.4 YPC, 0 TD

Santana Moss
17/252 yds, 14.8 YPC, 2 TD

2003 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.09 Denver 12-20 08.15 at Dallas 6-34 08.23 San Diego 17-19 08.28 at Tampa Bay 3-34 Regular Season 09.07 at Miami 21-20 09.14 at New Orleans 10-31 09.21 Kansas City 14-42 09.28 Jacksonville 24-20 10.05 Bye 10.12 at Tennessee 17-38 10.19 New York Jets 14-19 10.26 at Indianapolis 21-30 11.02 Carolina 14-10 11.09 at Cincinnati 27-34 11.16 at Buffalo 12-10 11.23 New England 20-23 11.30 Atlanta 17-13 12.07 at Jacksonville 0-27 12.14 at Tampa Bay 3-16 12.21 Tennessee 24-27 12.28 Indianapolis 17-20   Overall Record 5-11