The Rams started off this season with a win, but then suffered three bad losses in a row. After a win last week against Jacksonville, the Rams have a chance to put those three games behind them with a win Sunday to get back to .500.
The Texans were seen as one of the better teams in the AFC to start the season, but they have started the season 2-3. It's no fault of the defense, which is tops in the league allowing only 260 yards per game. The fault lies with the offense which has only put up 18.6 points per game.
This is a winnable game for the Rams, albeit a very tough one. Here are the key match-ups for the Rams.
Rams Offensive Line vs Texans Defensive Line
The Texans have the best defensive line in the league (hat tip to the 49ers). JJ Watt is an incredible talent, and a scary man. Antonio Smith is a very underrated player. Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus (I-L-L!) both provide pressure from the outside.
The Rams offense doesn't work without running the ball, or at the very least, the threat of running. Knowing they likely will not be able to out-muscle the Texans, they may have to be creative with run calls. Pass protection will also be a huge issue. The Rams will have to keep in multiple players to help block JJ Watt and co. from getting to Sam Bradford.
Rams Wide Recievers vs Texans Secondary
The Texans only give up 134 passing yards per game. That's insane. The 2nd ranked pass defense gives up 188 yards per game.
The Rams wide receivers have not played well so far, but in order for the Rams to get a win on the road, Jared Cook, Tavon Austin and Chris Givens are going to have to step it up. Fans may not want to hear it, but some quick, short throws that get the WRs into space may be the best option for the Rams. Sprinkle in some play action too.
Robert Quinn is going to have a hard time Sunday going up against one of the elite (a word I don't use lightly) offensive tackles in the NFL, Duane Brown. Chris Long will have to make up for it. Long had his best game of the season last week, and the Rams will need another stellar performance from him in order to get pressure on the struggling Matt Schaub.
I was hoping that Andre Johnson wouldn't be able to suit up this weekend, but he announced that he will be playing. Johnson is not the player he once was, but there are still few better wideouts in the NFL. Janoris Jenkins has played well at times for the Rams, but he is inconsistent and is prone to giving up big plays. He can't allow that to happen Sunday against Johnson. The Texans love to run play action. Jenkins will have to stay disciplined.