TIME: 04:05 P.M. EST
VENUE: Oakland Coliseum
The Houston Texans had their high-powered offense shut down in their first loss of the season. They're not expecting to have an easier time against the surprising third-ranked defense of the Oakland Raiders.
The Texans and Raiders meet for the fifth consecutive season Sunday after losses last weekend to NFC opponents.
Houston (2-1) fell 27-13 at home to Dallas after entering Week 3 with league highs of 64 points and 881 yards of total offense. The Texans were held to 241 yards through the first 56 minutes while falling into a 21-point deficit, and they failed to reach the end zone until 1:15 remained in the game.
While Houston was thoroughly outplayed, Oakland (1-2) fell 24-23 at Arizona last Sunday despite outgaining the Cardinals 364-227. Sebastian Janikowski missed three field goals, including a 32-yard attempt as time expired.
The Texans have won three of the last four meetings with the Raiders, including a 29-6 home victory last year. Houston believes this Oakland team might be the best it has faced in quite some time, with the Raiders allowing 260.7 yards per game to rank third in the NFL after finishing 27th last year.
"This team poses matchup problems for us," coach Gary Kubiak said. "I think they're third in defense in the league right now. They've got a great corner (Nnamdi Asomugha), so obviously they can cause us problems."
Asomugha has fared well in his last three games against Texans star Andre Johnson, helping limit the Pro Bowler to a total of five catches for 94 yards and no touchdowns. Johnson could be limited Sunday since he's bothered by an ankle injury suffered two weeks ago in a win at Washington, though he managed four receptions for 64 yards against Dallas.
Last Sunday, Asomugha was outstanding in helping hold Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald to two catches for 26 yards, although one went for a touchdown.
"I think he looked forward to it, prepared himself and I think the outcome showed that," coach Tom Cable said. "As we get ready to go with Houston now and Andre Johnson coming in here, then we'll talk about that. But you've got to take your hat off to him."
The Texans may be better off handing the ball to NFL leading rusher Arian Foster, who gained 106 yards against the Cowboys to increase his total to 406. The Raiders rank only 24th against the rush, compared to second against the pass.
Houston will have to do a better job of protecting Matt Schaub, who was sacked four times last Sunday and has been dropped an AFC-high 11 times.
Rashad Butler made his first start Sunday in place of left tackle Duane Brown, who began serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's banned substance policy. Right tackle Eric Winston said the entire offensive line bears the blame for the pressure on Schaub.
"I've heard that it was this guy or that guy," Winston said. "I don't buy that stuff. We take it upon ourselves up front, that we're going to be the guys that protect. If he needs to hold it for five or seven or 10 seconds, then that's what he needs to do, and we need to get them blocked."
On the other side of the ball, Oakland is hoping to be more opportunistic. The Raiders are tied for the most trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line with 13 but have come away with only three touchdowns for the third-worst percentage in the NFL.
"We left so many plays out there on the field offensively," Cable said. "The players, coaches, we would all tell you the same thing: 1 for 5 in the red zone is not good enough. It's totally unacceptable."
Bruce Gradkowski will try to take advantage of Houston's league-worst pass defense, which allows 368.7 yards per game and has no interceptions. Gradkowski made his first start last week over an ineffective Jason Campbell, completing 17 of 34 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Cable also said he's not worried about Janikowski, who has missed five field goals in three games. Janikowski's three misses from inside 50 yards are as many as he totaled over the previous two seasons.
"I told him I love him and I'd go to him again in the same situation and he'd probably have to win two or three games just like that for us this year and he'll probably do it," Cable said.
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