Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Here's something you may not know about the 5-and-oh Houston Texans: Four of their wins this year have come against teams that failed to make last year's NFL Playoffs (see Miami, Jacksonville, Tennessee and the New York Jets).
Now, here's something else you may want to know about the Texans - who head into Week 6 play as one of only two unbeatens in NFL-land along with the still under-the-radar Atlanta Falcons:
They could make a case right now for having both the NFL's Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year at this stage with do-it-all RB Arian Foster (his 532 yards rushing is second-best in the league right now) and defensive end J.J. Watt, respectively.
Yes sir, the latter was the unequivocal star of last Monday Night's 23-17 non-cover win at the 9 ½-point home underdog Jets as Watt either batted down or deflected a handful of QB Mark Sanchez passes and - in case you're interested -- Watt enters this prime-time game with 8 pass deflections and 7 ½ sacks this season after having a Week One sack against Miami stripped from his record by league number-crunchers this past week.
Now, Houston looks to maintain that perfect record against the not-so-perfect Green Bay Packers who six weeks into this current campaign already have been beaten by a replacement official's botched end zone call in Seattle and let's not forget last week when GB blew a 21-3 second-half lead en route to Indianapolis' stirring 30-27 win.
A lot's happened to this year's Pack already - a loss here tonight against the 3 ½-point favored Texans would give Green Bay four losses even before we get to Halloween ... some treat!
Now, here's more preview goodies on tonight's big tilt ...
GREEN BAY (2-3) at HOUSTON (5-0) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
No doubt the major post-game news coming out of that MNF game was the season-ending knee injury suffered by Houston LB Brian Cushing (team-high 29 tackles) and so if the Texans are gonna stay stingy (they allow just 14.6 ppg to rank fourth in the NFL) than backup-turned-starter LB Tim Dobbins must be a positive factor and that will include tracking down Green Bay RBs who grab hold of QB Aaron Rodgers screen passes - that staple will be important here considering the pass rush pressure that Watt and Company likely will provide.
On the flip side, if Green Bay LB Clay Matthews - who leads the league with 8 quarterback sacks this year - is gonna put his imprint on this under-the-lights affair that he must rattle QB Gary Kubiak while coming off the edge and up the middle - plus he must limit Foster's off-tackle runs here that somehow always seem to develop into big gainers.
One final X-factor here: The Texans - who only rank 20th in pass offense (228.8 ypg) - must attack the Packers deep and over the middle and so TE Owen Daniels could be a real fantasy league star here.
Did You Know? - Houston is an ugly 3-7-2 ATS (against the spread) in their last dozen games played against NFC competition while dating back to the start of the 2009 season.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS & NOTES
Hey, West Virginia, you can go ahead and say bye-bye to those BCS Championship Game hopes!
The Mountaineers - who bullied folks from pillar-to-post for much of the first five weeks of this College Football season - discovered the hard way that winning back-to-back on the Big 12 road ain't easy as last week's 48-45 win at Texas was instead followed up meekly by a 49-14 loss at Texas Tech ... and QB Geno Smith we don't want to hear about any swirling Lubbock winds or the fact that your team had to make back-to-back flights from Morgantown to the Lone Star State.
After all, you guys are the ones that wanted to"step up" and play Big 12 football, right?
The T-Tech Red Raiders put up 35 first-half points and obliterated the 'Neers and - without a doubt - made this year's Heisman Trophy race something to talk about as the aforementioned Smith was knocked back into the pack after his 24-TD, 0-INT start to this year. Smith did throw for 275 yards and one TD but was that how a Heisman Trophy winner was supposed to look? ...
While #5 West Virginia was taking a major tumble, #7 Notre Dame was dancin' between the raindrops following that hang-on-for-dear-life 20-13 overtime win against a physical Stanford side. Okay, so maybe the replay officials didn't want to upset the South Bend faithful there at the end - sure looked on TV as if Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor crossed the goal-line with possession of the ball on that fourth-down play - but the fact of the matter is that OT goal-line stand essentially showed what this year's blood-and-guts Notre Dame team is all about.
The grunt players up front for the Irish were great when they had to be and LB Manti Te'o - who we put third on our debut Heisman Trophy Watch List the other day - kept the heat on Stanford slinger Josh Nunes (12-of-25 passing with 2 INTs) all day long.
Now, third-year head coach Brian Kelly has Notre Dame sitting 6-and-oh and Irish fans know all too well that Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz all won national championships in their third year on the job - and it sure is beginning to feel as if there is major magic with this year's Notre Dame bunch.
Hey, maybe we'll see ESPN's Lee Corso dancing the jig again sometime later this year - that was funny stuff! ...
Finally, just a quickie note here on a big line move in yesterday's action as BYU took major money action in its game against #10 Oregon State:
The Coogs opened up as a 3 ½-point home fav and that price tag was driven up to 6 or 6 ½ points in certain locales (mainly because Oregon State was without injured QB Sean Mannion) and the"smart money" got hammered 42-24.
Did somebody say ... Oops!
NOTE: Get the Monday Night Football Preview - that's the Denver Broncos at the San Diego Chargers -- plus lots of post-NFL Week 6 News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.