Houston (-3) @ Miami
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It is hard to imagine a do-or-die scenario already playing out in Week 2, but that may be the case this Sunday for the Dolphins, as they host the Texans a week after being shredded at home by the Patriots. With Miami thinking they could be a playoff contender this year, starting the 2011 season possibly 2 games behind the other teams in the AFC East would be a huge early hole for them to try and dig their way out of, and could turn the temperature up on Tony Sparano’s hot seat.
Houston comes into this game confident after handing it to the Colts (albeit a “Manning-less Colts team) 34-7 in week 1, totally dominating them on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, the Dolphins will have less than a week to lick their wounds as the Pats handled them easily, 38-24 on Monday night.
Miami will have to find some defense for Sunday’s game or risk having to play catch-up in this game, much the same as they had to on Monday. Brady threw for a Patriots and personal record 517 yards, including 4 TD passes in Monday’s game. The Patriots offense as a whole racked up 622 yards in total, and Houston will look to do much of the same in this one. The Dolphins have made some changes on defense this week, including releasing CB Benny Sapp, and resigning CB Will Allen, whom the team had cut on Sept.3. With Sapp having little success against the Patriots receivers and in particular Wes Welker, it is hard to imagine Allen being able to do much to slow down arguably one of the NFL’s best wide outs in Andre Johnson. Houston’s offense ranked 3rd overall last year (4th in passing, 7th in rushing) and they really didn’t lose anyone in the offseason. Matt Schaub certainly isn’t Tom Brady, but he is very good at managing a game, and the Texans will look at controlling the ground game to set up their explosive passing attack. Schaub was 17 of 24 for 220 yards, with one TD and 2 INTS against Indy. Miami will also have to deal with another team who loves to use their Tight Ends, and the fish have done a very poor job at that over the past season and first few games this year. New England’s TE tandem managed 13 catches for 189 yards and 2 TDS on Monday, with 4 plays resulting in 20 or more yards. It will be another long game if Miami can’t control Houston’s Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen. Houston meanwhile will be hoping to have last year’s leading rusher, Arian Foster back for this one. Foster did practice this week but his status is still uncertain, although it looks as if he will play. Even without Foster in the line-up in last week’s game, the Texans still managed 167 yards on the ground, and they will try and establish that early against the Dolphins to free up their electric passing game.
Miami will look to build off a solid offensive performance Monday night in this one, with Chad Henne going 30 of 49 and throwing for 416 yards, with two touchdowns and a pick. Miami added another 98 yards on the ground in Reggie Bush’s regular season debut with the fish, and they will look to use him more in their offense in this one, both from the backfield as well as receiving the ball. Houston will have to try and slow down Miami receiver Brandon Marshall, who had a huge game making 7 catches for 139 yards against the Pats. That may be easier said than done though, considering the Texans had the last ranked pass defense in the NFL last year. Even though they had some success moving the ball, the Dolphins struggled on crossing the goal line, and had to settle for field goals too often against the Patriots. If they can turn some of those three point scores into touchdowns, they may actually have a chance in this one, especially if they can control the clock. Houston’s defense manhandled the Colts in their game, holding their offense to just 236 total yards. The Colts weren’t able to run or pass against the Texan’s D, holding Kerry Collins to just 197 yards passing, while giving up a mere 64 yards on the ground.
Miami is 5-11 against the spread at home over their last 16, and are 1-8 ATS when playing non-division opponents in September. The Texans have not lost to the Dolphins, beating them by 7 the last time these two met in Miami. I think the Texans are finally going to live up to their fan’s expectations this year, and I look for Houston to win this match-up and cover the 3 point spread.
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