The Pro Football Notebook

December 2, 2010 7:46 AM

Houston Rolls Into Philly

TrentCole.jpgPhiladelphia is in a tie for first with New York in the NFC East as they get set to host Houston tonight. The Texans got new life last week when both Indianapolis and Jacksonville lost and they pulled to within a game in the AFC South. The much-maligned Houston defense came up with a shutout against Tennessee. While it did come against a Rusty Smith-led offense, any performance like that in the NFL deserves respect, and they did shut down Chris Johnson and the Titan running game. Before thinking Houston can do it again though, we have to consider that there's a full body of work prior to this which is defensively challenged. They just don't match up with Michael Vick. The secondary isn't going to cover DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and even pressure from Mario Williams doesn't do any good against Vick. The Eagles are going to get their points.

It will then be incumbent on Matt Schaub and the Houston offense to keep pace. And they have a shot. The Birds are missing corner Asante Samuel, an absence that Jay Cutler exploited last week in Chicago. Schaub can do it to with Andre Johnson and the presence of Arian Foster in the run game will keep the Philly defense honest. In the end though, homefield advantage and Philly's own ability to get pressure with Trent Cole at defensive end give them enough defense to win this game 31-24.

Looking ahead to Sunday and a few of the games on the undercard...

New Orleans-Cincinnati: The Bengals have mailed it in on the season and are awaiting a new coach. The Saints are rounding into form, especially offensively. New Orleans wins this going away.

Carolina-Seattle: An ugly, ugly game. Seattle's playing lousy right now, but this is a home game with Carolina--it's never going to get easier. Pete Carroll had Jimmy Clausen's number when they were at USC & Notre Dame respectively, and he does it again here with pressure packages that Clausen has struggled with in his rookie year.

Buffalo-Minnesota: No playoff implications here, but a pretty good game. Buffalo is playing good football every week, while Minnesota re-established their run game last week in the first game under Leslie Frazier and even with Adrian Peterson probably out with an ankle injury, Toby Gerhart did well in his stead. Minnesota will need to throw the ball to win against the shaky Bills secondary, but with the run back in vogue, Brett Favre has an efficient game and the Vikes win again.

Cleveland-Miami: Miami's still a longshot for the playoffs, but a very longshot. But this is another game that's good on its merits. Cleveland needs to find some way to get people other than running back Peyton Hillis and tight end Ben Watson involved in the passing game. They run the ball well with Hillis and can manage the passing game, but they need more to win in Miami. If Colt McCoy plays, I lean the Browns to pull it out. With Jake Delhomme, who assume will get the call, I'm going with Miami.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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