Eagle Scout: Eagles and Texans: Strengths and weaknesses

The Eagles and Texans have this in common: They both score.

The Eagles rank second in the NFL with 28.2 points per game, while the Texans put up 24 per contest, tied for 10th. Both teams feature an array of weapons to get them to the end zone: Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy in green, and Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and Matt Schaub in red, white, and blue.

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Texans receiver Andre Johnson (80) was not suspended for this fight with the Titans' Cortland Finnegan. Johnson will be a handful for the Birds, who might be without Asante Samuel.

The Eagles' bigger problem Sunday was defense. After several strong outings, the Eagles' "D" was repeatedly punctured by the Bears' running and passing. The Texans have the ability to do the same.

But Houston also gives up slightly more than 26 points per game and has been particularly vulnerable through the air, presenting an opportunity for the explosive Eagles.

Here is a look at the teams:

 

Eagles' strengths

The Eagles had a down game on Sunday - and still scored 26 points. Maclin has at least four catches in all but two games this season, and Jason Avant is getting more involved from the slot. He had eight receptions against the Bears and five against the Redskins two weeks earlier.

LeSean McCoy leads the team in receptions over the last three weeks and is averaging 5 yards per rush. He's had 215 touches and one lost fumble. Vick leads the NFL with a 106.0 passer rating.

The defense took a step back Sunday, but it is still tied for the NFL lead with 26 takeaways. Led by Trent Cole, it ranks eighth in the NFL with 30 sacks.

 

Eagles' weaknesses

The Eagles are just 2 for 10 scoring touchdowns in the red zone in the last two weeks. The missed opportunities may have cost them the game in Chicago.

Overall, they rank 19th in red-zone offense, getting into the end zone on just 48.7 percent of their trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line.

Vick has been hit hard recently. He has been sacked seven times in the last two weeks and knocked down many more times. His eight fumbles are tied for second most in the NFL, though he has lost only one.

The defense was gashed by the run last week after a number of strong performances and will have to improve its tackling. The "D" is dead last in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns 76.7 percent of the time, nearly 9 percentage points worse than the next team on the list.

Without Asante Samuel, the Eagles were torched through the air. If he is out again, the backups will have to play better.

 

Texans' strengths

A wide receiver, Johnson beat a cornerback with his fists last week, but usually he does it with his arms, big frame, and a softer use of his hands. The 6-foot-3 Johnson is tied for fourth in the NFL in receptions and is sixth in yards. He's one of the best in the game and may face an inexperienced secondary if Samuel is out.

Foster leads the NFL in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage. He gains 5.1 yards per rush.

If the game is close late, watch out. Schaub has thrown six of his 15 touchdowns in the final 15 minutes and ranks fourth in the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating.

The Texans rank ninth in the NFL in red-zone scoring.

Their run defense is tied for eighth best in the league, though that might be because it's so easy to pass against Houston. Defensive end Mario Williams has 81/2 sacks.

 

Texans' weaknesses

The Texans gave up at least 24 points in every game this year until Sunday, when they shut out a Titans team starting its third-string quarterback. They rank 26th in points allowed, a statistic directly attributable to their pass defense, which is 31st in yards allowed per game. The Texans have surrendered a league-worst 25 touchdown passes and have produced just nine interceptions, including three Sunday off Rusty Smith.

Despite Williams' productivity, the Texans have just 18 sacks, 28th in the NFL.

 


Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.