This is a Houston team that has never lost to Miami in six previous meetings, and with Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Schaub back to 100 percent after suffering a season-ending foot injury, the team’s confidence level is high. Schaub has dangerous weapons at his disposal in Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson and Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster as well as tight end Owen Daniels. Foster was listed as questionable on Friday with a knee injury but he told reporters he expects to start.
Over on the defensive side of the ball is where the Texans suffered their biggest losses as top pass rushers Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans signed with the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. Rookie first-round draft pick Whitney Mercilus will be asked to bring the pressure from his defensive end position, but other than his addition along with linebacker Bradie James, Houston doesn’t look much different from the team that beat Miami last year at Sun Life Stadium in Week 2, 23-13.
“We certainly looked at last year’s game, obviously, because the vast majority of their staff is still intact and a lot of their players are still intact,” Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “They’ve certainly added some good players to their roster just like hopefully we have. We looked at last year’s film, but beyond that, really didn’t study much.”
By kickoff tomorrow at noon Houston time, Philbin will have a good idea how much his preparation and the studying his players did get done will pay off.
Five Things To Watch:
1. What kind of start Dolphins rookie quarterback
2. Who on Miami will give defensive end
3. Dolphins rookie right tackle
4. Which special teams unit is playing at a higher level: Houston won the only three previous meetings at home against the Dolphins by a total of five points, winning 17-15 on October 1st, 2006, 22-19 on October 7th, 2007 and 29-28 on October 12th, 2008. Miami’s
5. Miami Head Coach Joe Philbin versus Houston Head Coach Gary Kubiak: This is Kubiak’s seventh season running the show for the Texans and Philbin’s first with the Dolphins and first as a head coach. Kubiak’s performance last season in bringing the AFC South title and a playoff victory to Houston – with a third-string quarterback no less – earned him the respect of his owner, players and fellow coaches around the league and he is out to prove it wasn’t a fluke. Philbin said earlier this week that he loves road games because of the us against them mentality it breeds, and his pregame speech tonight along with how he reacts against live bullets tomorrow is crucial. If he can coax an inspired performance out of his team and establish a comfort level for Tannehill and his young offense, an upset is not out of the question.