|NFL Week 9: Texans at Raiders Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Sunday, 04 November 2007 08:00|
Something Has to Give
It's a good thing the Houston Texans know what their backup quarterback is capable of. That's because with their starter likely out, the Texans will turn to Sage Rosenfels to try and halt their losing streak.
The Texans try to snap a three-game skid when they visit the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
The Raiders are also reeling, having scored just 33 points during their own three-game losing streak. And like the Texans, Oakland (2-5) may have somebody else under center in an attempt to stop the slide.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Oakland -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 41.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 100% of bets for this game have been placed on Oakland -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Josh McCown, who broke a toe on Sept. 23, is nearly healthy and may take the job away from Daunte Culpepper, who's started the last four games.
Houston (3-5) is turning to Rosenfels this week because starter Matt Schaub is still feeling the effects of a concussion resulting from a helmet-to-helmet hit in last Sunday's 35-10 loss to San Diego. It was the second game in a row Schaub was knocked out with a helmet-to-helmet hit, having injured his hip in a 38-36 loss to Tennessee two weeks ago.
"It was hurting. I had headaches," said Schaub, who suffered his first concussion. "I was a little out of it and not really with it and really cloudy and foggy in my head. It was a weird feeling not ever experiencing anything like that prior.
"It's feeling better, clearing up a little bit. Headaches are subsiding, so we'll take it day to day."
Although Schaub says he feels better, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he was unlikely to play, meaning Rosenfels would make his third career start and first since 2005. The team also signed veteran Craig Nall this week to provide insurance.
Rosenfels has played well behind Schaub this season. Against the Titans, he nearly led one of the biggest fourth-quarter comebacks in NFL history, throwing for 290 yards and four touchdowns as Houston rallied from a 32-7 deficit before losing 38-36 on a last-second field goal.
Rosenfels - who played the second half last week - has seen action in three games this season, throwing six touchdown passes and five interceptions. His two previous starts - both losses - came with Miami in 2004 and 2005, and he's been a much better quarterback when not asked to start.
In his two starts, he's posted a passer rating of 30.0, with one touchdown pass and five interceptions. In 18 relief appearances, Rosenfels has tossed 14 TDs to only five picks, posting a 96.2 rating.
"I think it's a very important game for him in his career, because we've been struggling and we need to find a way to win a game," Kubiak said. "We're going on the road in a tough place to play, really a very tough environment. He's got to step up and lead this team and get us back going on the right track, so I think it's a big game in his career, it's a big game for us and I expect him to play well."
Of course, the quarterback won't matter much for Houston if the team continues its turnover woes. Despite outgaining San Diego 367-237, the Texans had five turnovers that led to 21 points in the blowout loss.
Houston has 11 turnovers in its last two games and has given the ball up at least twice in all but one game this season. Its 23 turnovers are by far the worst total in the AFC.
"The guys that have got to fix it are that guys that are playing, and they know it," said Kubiak, whose team has lost five of six after starting 2-0. "Our guys have been real hard on themselves. We've had some good meetings, and meetings don't solve them. You've got to solve them when you play. So hopefully we go back this week and play clean."
While the Raiders have stayed in games with a tough defense, their anemic offense hasn't produced enough for Oakland to get a victory. The team lost 12-10 to Kansas City two weeks ago before falling 13-9 to Tennessee last Sunday.
"There's not a big gap between winning and losing," said Culpepper, who has a 66.2 rating during the losing streak. "When everybody realizes it's only a small gap between winning and losing, that's when you get on those win streaks."
Raiders coach Lane Kiffin refused to name Culpepper as his starter this week, wanting to see how McCown performed in practice. After accounting for five touchdowns - including three rushing - in a 35-17 win over Miami in Week 4, Culpepper has led the offense to just two touchdowns in the last three weeks.
"I just think collectively as a group we've got to be better," Culpepper said. "I think we can. I see it in spurts. If you can do it in spurts, you can be disciplined enough to be consistent with it. I have been in great offenses and on great teams that can do it. It's just a matter of everybody making their mind up to do it."
Part of the problem has been penalties and Oakland committed 14 infractions against the Titans, including six false-starts. Another problem has been the rushing attack. After gaining 299 yards against the Dolphins, the Raiders have yet to crack 100 yards in any of the last three games.
LaMont Jordan, who averaged 106 yards in the first four games, is bothered by a back injury and has averaged just 29 yards during the losing streak.
The Texans have won both meetings with the Raiders, including a 23-10 victory in Oakland last December.
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