The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4) visit the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (6-3) this Sunday, Nov. 13 in a matchup of two teams headed in opposite directions. The Bucs have lost their last two games to dip to the .500 mark, while the Texans are on the upswing, winning each of their last three by an average of nearly three touchdowns.
Houston presents a big challenge for the Bucs, as it owns the league's No. 3 defense and No. 6 offense; the Bucs rank No. 23 and No. 24 in those categories, respectively. Quarterback Matt Schaub leads an efficient passing game (13 touchdowns, just six interceptions in 277 attempts), but Arian Foster is the lynchpin: the three-year veteran ranks No. 3 in the league in touches, with 154 carries and 27 receptions. Containing him must be Tampa Bay's top priority.
In their last outing, the Buccaneers fell to the New Orleans Saints, 27-16, just three weeks after upsetting New Orleans and taking the NFC South lead in what's clearly been the zenith of their season. The Bucs allowed 453 yards of total offense to New Orleans.
Houston won its last outing, 30-12, against the Cleveland Browns despite a pedestrian effort (14-of-23, 119 yards no touchdowns, one interception) from Schaub. Foster and Ben Tate combined for 31 carries, 239 yards, and two touchdowns as the Texans ran roughshod over the Browns' defense.
The Bucs and Texans have squared off just twice before, with each game winning on its home field. Most recently, in 2007, Houston prevailed by a 28-14 final, but the teams looked completely different then: Luke McCown was under center for the Buccaneers, while Sage Rosenfels quarterbacked the Texans.