NFL: Raiders-Texans preview

The Examiner breaks down the Raiders-Texans game, including what it will take to win, the matchups, a word about the coaches, our humble predictions and broadcast information.

THREE KEYS TO A VICTORY

1. Last season, veteran Warren Sapp was second on the Raiders with 10 sacks (fellow defensive lineman Derrick Burgess led the team with 11). So far this year, Sapp has two sacks and Burgess has just one. The team’s sack leader is Gerard Warren, who has three. This is hardly the intimidating defense of a year ago. Another damning stat: The Raiders have not recovered one fumble for a takeaway. Maybe the vocal Sapp can rally his troops to improve.

2. The Texans don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of too many teams. Still, the Raiders can’t take them for granted; with Tommy Kelly out for the year, a porous Raiders rushing defense just got a little worse. If Ahman Green sits again, former Raider Adimchinobi Echemandu should expect to see a lot of carries.

3. The Texans might be short on offensive firepower, but Kevin Walter is turning into a legitimate threat. In his last three games, the fifth-year receiver has put up 160, 97 and 77 yards. With Andre Johnson likely out, he should be considered their most explosive player.

KEY MATCHUPS

SAGE ROSENFELS vs. THOMAS HOWARD

Rosenfels: Matt Schaub’s backup will likely face a variety of different blitz packages all day.

Howard: The Raiders’ do-everything defender will look to clog passing lanes and put a hit on the QB.

DEMECO RYANS vs. LAMONT JORDAN

Ryans: Outstanding second-year LB has a remarkable 24 more tackles than any other Texan.

Jordan: Rushing totals are dwindling lately. Can the engineof the team get his season back on track?

MARIO WILLIAMS JOSH MCCOWN

Williams: Texans may never live down drafting him, but he is having a decent second year (four sacks).

McCown: He’s the starter again, following Daunte Culppeper’s recent struggles. But will it matter?

COACHES' CORNER

Must-win is an overly used adjective in the sports world, but this might be that kind of game for Lane Kiffin. Sure, the Raiders have not had many breaks, but they need to prove they can beat a bad team.

Gary Kubiak hasn’t been dealt a very good hand with these Texans, but deserves credit for mustering three wins out of this group. Getting a road win would be a huge confidence boost for a young team.

THE EXAMINER PREDICTS …

The fact the Patriots-Colts game is getting the airtime over this matchup should tell you about the quality of these teams. But the Raiders have flirted with several more wins and will be hungry to close the deal this time. The home crowd will help. RAIDERS 12, TEXANS 10

Texans at Raiders

Sunday, 1:15 p.m.

TV: None

Radio: KSFO (560 AM)

NFLOakland Raiders & NFLsports

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