By Jay Betsill
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans
Sunday – November 2 – 12:00 pm
NRG Stadium – Houston
When the Houston Texans (4-4) welcome the Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) to NRG Stadium this Sunday, it will be a homecoming of sorts as seven Eagles used to call Houston home. Linebackers DeMeco Ryans, Connor Barwin and Bryan Braman, tight end James Casey, punter Donnie Jones, receiver Jeff Maehl and tackle Andrew Gardner were all members of the Texans before signing with Philadelphia. Meanwhile, former Eagles wide receiver Damarius Johnson was claimed by the Texans after being waived by Philadelphia in the pre-season, so it is not entirely one-sided.
“It’s going to be special going back to where I started playing,” Ryans said. “I played there six years. A lot of great friends. It was just great players, great fans there. I’m excited to come back. I don’t know how I’m going to feel. Right now I feel like a normal game, but I don’t know how I’m going to feel until I actually get there, get out there, start warming up and see how it actually feels being on the opposite sideline.”
Last Sunday’s win 30-16 win over Tennessee snapped a three-game losing streak for the Texans, but Houston will be facing a much tougher challenge this week, specifically in Chip Kelly’s offense. With Texans linebackers Brian Cushing (knee) and Jadaveon Clowney (unspecified illness) both questionable, Eagles QB Nick Foles will look to improve on his NFL’s 28th-rated passer rating. Foles could also have another weapon at his disposal as running back Darren Sproles is expected to return after missing last week’s loss at Arizona due to a knee injury. Since the Eagles offensive line is dealing with some injury issues, Texans MVP-candidate J.J. Watt will need to have another monster game for Houston to have a realistic chance in this game.
“I have to do a better job,” said Foles. “Words can’t describe it. I have to keep working on fundamentals, footwork and decision-making. I’m going to keep studying film and keep working. It’s all correctable and I can fix it. My words don’t mean anything. I have to go out there and prove it.”
If Houston has any chance of hanging with the high-powered Eagles offense, it will be through the ground game, specifically running back Arian Foster. He rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries and caught four passes for 22 yards and a TD last week against the Titans. Foster has also reached the 100-yard mark in a career-high four consecutive games and he will need another great performance to keep the time of possession on favor of Houston and Foles and company on the sidelines.
The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-0 all time against the Houston Texans and will improve to 4-0 this weekend with a 38-21 road win as they look to keep pace with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.