Sure, I understand there are quite a few variables before the lineup is set for Sunday the 12th; who is our starting offensive line? Who will be cut? And who will be healthy to play come week 1? But here are a few points that I have been giving some thought and consider to be X-Factors in a week 1 victory over the Texans.
The LT Spot - Yes, this is absolutely obvious because of the handful that is Mario Williams. Under the assumption that CJ will not be ready to go, or will not be 100% healthy come week 1, I think it will be crucial for the offense to run some bootleg type plays to the right hand side to help in neutralizing Mario. Other options that could work are running screens to the left side; we all know how hungry the Texans are to beat us, so I would be very surprised if Mario won't be over-pursuing to get a hit on #18. Let's face it, with a make shift O-line, our run game is not going to get any better...the best version of the run game is the screen pass and the HB coming out into the flat. We know Addai has hands, speed and moves, all we need to do is get him into open space.
The C Spot - Saturday will be back...the guy is a warrior and I think we're all confident he will be ready to go come Sunday the 12th.
The TE and Slot Receiver Spot - No Cushing, no problems...There are not many people that can match up with Dallas in this league, however Cushing is a hell of a LB (enhancing drugs do help)...this is the mismatch to exploit. Peyton will most likely be limited on time in the pocket, therefore his best friends will be Dallas, Gonzo/Collie. Quick drags, slants, in's, hitches and skinny posts will help in spreading out the defense for those big play opportunities. He should be able to utilize the middle of the field at will, and once the LB/CBs start dropping just a little further to stop the exploitation of the middle, we can start creating running room for Joe. As long as that is effective, it becomes time for the play action pass for the deep ball to Garcon/Wayne.
Our CB Spot - Andre Johnson is the best receiver in the league...yes, I said it. He is too big to bump at the line and to quick to straight up play man against. How do we fix this? Well, I would consider putting our best CB (Powers, if he is healthy) on him and rolling coverage over the top to his side. I love Powers, but he does not have the speed/power to shut-down Johnson on his own.
Our LB Spot - Owen Daniels is a beast...he presents similar problems to defenses that Clark does. I would guess that Brackett will be mainly responsible for him, however, he may also need help from a safety with this match up from time to time. Honestly, I would love to see formations were Sanders, Bethea and Bullitt are all out there at the same time. 2CB, 3S, 2LB and 4 D-Line or even 3CB, 3S, 2LB and 3 D-Line in obvious passing situations. Yes, I think Wheeler is our weakest link on defense....he has a long way to go.
I think everything else will take care of itself...our Wideouts are studs, and our D-line will get pressure on Schaub...as always, Peyton is our key to success, however the Texans do have a ton of weapons as well and will need our defense to step up to force them to become one dimensional. And even though the Texans are not a good running team, removing that threat would be huge...and we do that by our defense making stop early and our offense lighting up the scoreboard...obvious? Yeah, no doubt!