By Jay Betsill
Houston Texans vs. Oakland Raiders
Sunday – September 14 – 3:25pm
O.co Coliseum – Oakland
The Houston Texans won all of two games a season ago and with a victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, head coach Bill O’Brien’s team will equal last year’s win total in the first two weeks of the season.
Perhaps the biggest storyline on the Texans sidelines this weekend in the Bay Area will be the return of punter Shane Lechler. Lechler played 13 seasons with the Raiders after being Al Davis’ selection in the 5th round in 2000.
The Raiders know all about suffering, having not had a winning season since 2002, but they do have new hope in the form of rookie quarterback Derek Carr, whose brother David was the No.1 overall pick for the Texans in 2002. Carr beat out former Texans signal caller Matt Schaub for the starting nod in training camp after Houston chose not to select Carr in the second round this past May.
Carr will not have to deal with the Texans’ prized rookie, No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. After suffering a torn meniscus during the second quarter of the Texans’ season opener, Clowney had arthroscopic knee surgery Monday morning and will become the first defensive top overall selection since 1992 to miss games due to injury in his rookie season. The defense will still be alright with defensive end J.J. Watt — the highest-paid defensive player in the history of the NFL — still anchoring the 3-4 base defense.
The Texans offense with new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was just good enough for a 17-6 win over the Washington Redskins last week in Houston. Their first touchdown of the game came on a 76-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to DeAndre Hopkins. Fitzpatrick also showed some chemistry with veteran Andre Johnson, who caught six passes, each going for a first down. Should the Raiders attempt to shut down the air attack, running back Arian Foster, who had 103 yards on 27 carries in Week 1, will be asked to once again carry the load.
Prediction: Texans will win 28-10 and Lechler will be well-received by Raider Nation.