Eagles-Texans: predictions, key matchups


Here are Daily News staff selections for tonight's game between the Eagles and the Texans:


The Texans started the season as trendy, dark-horse, Super Bowl contenders. Then, after a 3-1 start, they lost five of six, giving up at least 29 points in each of those games, before shutting out the Rusty Smith-led Titans last Sunday.

This game ought to be a shootout, and the Eagles ought to win it. The fatigue factor ought to be even, since both teams played Sunday. I think the Eagles will respond to Andy Reid's upbraiding and play a much sharper game.

If Asante Samuel can play effectively, the Eagles certainly should win, but Asante's health is very much an unknown. This could be a defining game for Sean McDermott's defense.

If the Texans can bottle up Michael Vick the way the Bears did until the fourth quarter, I'll be really surprised.

Prediction: Eagles 30, Texans 24



There are a lot of reasons the Eagles could lose tonight. After watching their secondary struggle mightily to cover Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox and Devin Hester on Sunday, I'm not all that confident in their ability to neutralize Andre Johnson. Even if Asante Samuel is able to play, I can't imagine he'll be anywhere close to 100 percent.

If the Texans can get their run game going with NFL rushing leader Arian Foster, Matt Schaub will be able to play-action the Eagles to death. And considering the difficulty they had Sunday containing Matt Forte, I'm not all that confident in their ability to neutralize the 6-2, 227-pound Foster.

Then there's the Eagles' offensive line, which continues to be a liability, and seems to be losing the trust of quarterback Michael Vick, who is starting to get happy feet.

But the Texans' pass rush isn't nearly as good as the Bears', and their secondary already has given up 25 touchdown passes. If Kansas City and Jacksonville and the New York Jets can put up 30 points on this bunch, the Eagles and their speedy batch of skill-position weapons certainly should be able to.

When in doubt on a short-week pick, go with the team that didn't have to get on a plane and fly 1,300 miles.

Prediction: Eagles 34, Texans 27

Other predictions:

Ed Barkowitz: Eagles, 31-14

Bill Conlin: Eagles, 27-24

Marcus Hayes: Eagles, 27-20

John Smallwood: Eagles, 27-17

Vegas Vic: Eagles, 31-26



1. Eagles RT Winston Justice vs. Texans LDE Mario Williams: Williams will be the best pass-rusher Justice has faced since the Colts' Robert Mathis in Week 9, and he needed all the help he could get with Mathis. Advantage: Texans

2. Eagles CBs Asante Samue/Joselio Hanson and Dimitri Patterson vs. Texans WR Andre Johnson: Johnson is one of the game's best wideouts, though he's been hampered much of the year by an ankle injury. Samuel is a ballhawk with a league-best seven interceptions, but missed last week's game with an MCL knee sprain. Even if he plays, he will be nowhere close to 100 percent. Advantage: Texans

3. Eagles MLB Stewart Bradley vs. Texans RB Arian Foster: Foster is a big, hard-to-bring-down back who leads the league in rushing and yards from scrimmage. Bradley needs to do a better job of tackling than he did vs. Matt Forte. Advantage: Texans


Read more: http://www.philly.com/dailynews/sports/playbook/111178694.html?viewAll=y#ixzz16zYITc58
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