The Houston Texans open their season at home against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday September 9th. Last year the Texans finished 10-6 in 2011 and atop the AFC South. The team defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the playoffs but lost in the next round to the Baltimore Ravens.
Conversely, the Dolphins finished 6-10 on the year, good for third in the AFC East, and fired their coach Tony Sparano in season.
This season the Texans start with key players returning from injury and new additions from the draft looking to kickoff a strong start. Returning from injury are quarterback Matt Schaub, wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster (sort of). All players are back after missing multiple games last season except Foster who was on track to return until leaving practice on Thursday with an injury.
He is listed as a game time decision for the contest against the Dolphins. Look for the Texans to use their running game to control the clock using a combination of Foster and back up Ben Tate. If Foster is unavailable look for the Texans to utilize Justin Forsett. To assist the passing game the Texans drafted wide receivers in both the third and fourth rounds.
Look for the team to spread the ball around using both rookies DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin. Defensively look for the Texans to get creative with their pass rushers. It is uncertain if linebacker Brooks Reed will be available after leaving practice on Thursday. However, the Texans should be excited to unleashed rookie pass rusher Whitney Mercilius. Mercilius is in his first year out of the University of Illinois.
The Dolphins are a team in turmoil. Out this year are former coach Sparano and top receiver Brandon Marshall. In are new coach Joe Philbin, rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and a whole lot of questions. Against the Texans look for the Dolphins to focus on the running game.
This will give the ball to the their most explosive player, Reggie Bush and protect their rookie QB. The running game is even more important because of the injuries along the Dolphins offensive line. Offensive lineman Artis Hicks is gone for the season with a neck injury, left tackle Jake Long has a sprained MCL and guard John Jerry has a sprained ankle.
Defensively the Dolphins have a strong front seven lead by pass rusher Cameron Wake. The Dolphins should be able to some pressure on the Texans quarterback. The key for the Dolphins defense is how well new acquisition Richard Marshall replaces Vontae Davis at cornerback. Davis was trade to the Colts during the preseason.
This will be a tough game for the Dolphins to win. With all of the changes the team has gone through they might just hope to find positives out of the loss. I see the Texans handling this game easily, Houston 31 Dolphins 17.