|Eagles vs. Houston Texans|
|Thurs., Dec. 2, 8:20 PM, NFL Network, Lincoln Financial Field|
The Eagles return to Thursday night football for the first time since their Thanksgiving night victory over the Arizona Cardinals two seasons ago when they welcome in their final AFC South opponent of the season, the Houston Texans.
The Houston Texans made a breakthrough in 2009 as they won their final four games to finish with their first winning season (9-7) since joining the NFL in 2002. In 2010, the Texans look to take the next step and secure their first playoff berth.
The Texans boasted the league's top passing attack last season with one of the deadliest quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the NFL in Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Schaub led the league with a staggering 4,770 passing yards last season and Johnson was his go-to guy with a league-high 1,569 yards. Schaub's numbers were even more impressive when you factor in that he was without talented tight end Owen Daniels for half of the season because of a knee injury.
As impressive the Texans were through the air, the ground game - with a parcel of backs including Steve Slaton and Ryan Moats - never took off as they ranked 30th in the league in rushing. What hurt the run game even more was the propensity to fumble away the ball. The Texans ranked sixth in the league with 11 lost fumbles in 2009.
It'll be interesting to see what the Texans offense looks like with first-year offensive coordinator Rick Dennison taking over for Kyle Shanahan, who joined his dad in Washington. Dennison isn't a first-time offensive coordinator. He was Denver's offensive coordinator from 2006-08 and the Broncos were in the top 12 in rushing in each of those seasons.
The defense has some juice of its own with three young playmakers in former No. 1 overall draft pick Mario Williams at defensive end and recent NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year winners in linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing. Williams is a massive 6-6, 288-pound two-time Pro Bowl end with a franchise-record 39.5 sacks over his four NFL seasons. In 2007, he set the franchise single-season record with 14.0 sacks. Ryans is a two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker with 518 career tackles, 7.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and two career interceptions. Cushing made the Pro Bowl as a rookie last year at strongside linebacker and his 134 tackles ranked second in the league only to Baltimore's Ray Lewis. The secondary, however, will have to make up for the loss of cornerback Dunta Robinson who signed with Atlanta in the off-season.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 10:03 p.m., July 9