DATE: Sunday, Sept. 9
TIME: 1 p.m. ET
SITE: Reliant Stadium
SERIES RECORD: Houston leads 6-0
AT MIAMI: Texans lead 3-0
AT HOUSTON: Texans lead 3-0
LAST MEETING: 2011 at Miami; Texans 23, Dolphins 13
SERIES TREND: Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the trend is: the teams meet, Houston wins. Until last year, though, every game had come down to the end. The first four games, in fact, were decided by a combined seven points.
SERIES HIGHLIGHT: The teams met in an opener once before, that coming in 2003 at Miami. With Houston in only its second season of existence and the Dolphins having legitimate playoff aspirations, Miami was expected to extend its opening-day winning streak to 12 games. But a last-second field goal by Kris Brown gave Houston a stunning 21-20 victory.
TEXANS SCOUTING REPORT
HOUSTON’S 2011 RECORD: 10-6
2011 PLAYOFFS: Beat Cincinnati in wild-card round; lost at Baltimore in divisional round
OVERVIEW: Fresh off the first playoff appearance in franchise history and with QB Matt Schaub back after missing the end of last season with a foot injury, Houston enters the 2012 season as a legitimate contender to win the AFC title and reach the Super Bowl.
THE TEXANS’ STRENGTH ON OFFENSE: With Schaub and star wide receiver Andre Johnson, the Texans have talent in the passing game, but their forte is running the ball. Behind Arian Foster and top backup Ben Tate, Houston finished second in the NFL in rushing in 2011.
THE TEXANS’ QUESTION MARK ON OFFENSE: Much was made of Houston losing star players Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans from their defense in the offseason, but perhaps their biggest personnel loss might turn out to be right tackle Eric Winston. He was considered one of the best in the league at his position, and the Texans are going to replace him with 2011 seventh-round pick Derek Newton.
THE TEXANS’ STRENGTH ON DEFENSE: The Houston pass rush survived after Williams went down with an injury in the fifth game last season, and it might be even better in 2012. In Brooks Reed, Connor Barwin and rookie first-round pick Whitney Mercilus, Houston has three outside linebackers with pass-rushing ability.
THE TEXANS’ QUESTION MARK ON DEFENSE: Considering the Texans were fourth against the run in 2011 and third against the pass, there’s no glaring weakness there. If we have to mention anything, it’s the run defense because Houston was only 11th in terms of yards allowed per rushing attempt at 4.1.
THE TEXANS’ STRENGTH ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Trindon Holliday is easy to miss at 5 feet 6 inches, but the Dolphins need to track him down on Sunday whenever they kick the ball. Yes, it was only the preseason, but this summer Holliday returned two punts and one kickoff for scores in those four games.
THE TEXANS’ QUESTION MARK ON SPECIAL TEAMS: The Texans took kicker Randy Bullock in the fifth round of the 2012 draft with the idea he’d replace veteran Neil Rackers, but those plans were derailed when Bullock sustained a groin injury that landed him on IR. So instead Houston is going with veteran Shayne Graham, who has been with four teams — including the Dolphins for two games in 2011 — the last two years.