History Lessons: The Schaub must go on
Matt Schaub has never experienced a game in Houston without Owen Daniels as a target. He also hasn't played in a game against the Colts since September of 2007.
In Week 9, he'll get to experience them both -- no Daniels, and his first meeting with Indy in two years.
Losing Daniels was a huge blow to the Houston offense. Forty of Schaub's 188 completions and 519 of Schaub's 2,342 passing yards went to Daniels this season -- just more than 20 percent of his totals. And five of his 16 touchdowns (31.3 pct.) were with Daniels on the other end.
Replacing Daniels in the Houston lineup is Joel Dreessen , a career 9.0 yards per catch tight end known more for blocking and long snapping than receiving. Obviously it's not a perfect situation; Dreessen will be lucky to top 40 yards per game based on his career average and the amount of receptions he might get in a single contest.
So that got us to thinking -- knowing that Schaub has never played a game for the Texans without Daniels, how has he done in games where Daniels has essentially been a non-factor? Moreover, how did the Texans offense as a whole do when Daniels delivered a dud?
Excluding Week 8 of this season, here are Daniels' sub-40-yard, no touchdown games that Schaub played in full, along with how the Texans' offense did in those contests:
|Week 1, 2007||KC||1 rec., 14 yds||16/22, 225 yds., TD, INT||A. Johnson: 7 rec., 142 yds., TD|
|Week 1, 2008||@PIT||3 rec., 33 yds||25/33, 202 yds., TD, 2 INTs||
A. Johnson: 10 rec., 112 yds
K. Walter: 3 rec., 41 yds., TD
|Week 8, 2008||CIN||3 rec., 21 yds||24/28, 280 yds., 3 TDs||
A. Johnson: 11 rec., 143 yds
K. Walter: 5 rec., 70 yds, 2 TDs
|Week 17, 2008||CHI||3 rec., 37 yds||27/36, 328 yds, 2 TDs||A. Johnson: 10 rec., 148 yds, 2 TDs|
Pretty incredible stuff, especially looking at what Andre Johnson has done. Proof that he doesn't need as much help as other receivers to maintain his dominance. Kevin Walter also picked up some slack, which is expected going forward this season.
Does this suggest that we shouldn't be worried about the Texans' future without Daniels participating? Remember that there is something to be said about his presence; Daniels was known as a versatile tight end with remarkable receiving skills, so teams covered him as best they could. With him out, teams surely won't pay the same respect to Dreessen until he warrants it. Still, it's good to know that Schaub, Johnson and the Texans' passing game hasn't struggled much when Daniels was a non-factor.
Now, what about Schaub's chances against the Colts in Week 9? In spite of the division rivalry, Schaub hasn't taken on Indy since September of 2007 thanks to injuries suffered over the last two calendar years. In the Sept., 2007 game Schaub completed a whopping 27 of 33 passes but for just 236 yards with a touchdown, two picks and two fumbles (neither lost). However, he did that without Johnson.
Put two and two together, and you'll get this: Sunday will be the first time the Texans will have Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson on the field at the same time against the Colts. Johnson has more or less done well against Indy (one 100-yard game, three touchdowns over his last five against them), and that's without his best quarterback throwing to him.
Even with Indy's pass defense usually outstanding at home, sitting these guys isn't an option. And now you can be reasonably confident that they won't disappoint in the wake of a roster shakeup, either.
Return to the scene of the Wildcat
Last year when Miami played at New England, the Dolphins unveiled the Wildcat offense and thrived: Ronnie Brown ran for four touchdowns and threw another as the Patriots were completely unprepared for their version of the single-wing. They were far more ready when they met later in the year in Miami as the Dolphins totaled 25 yards on eight Wildcat plays. And chances are the Patriots will be ready to roll against the Wildcat again this week.
That game was the only time in the Patriots' last five meetings with the Dolphins where they failed to move the ball through the air effectively. Whether it was Matt Cassel last year or Tom Brady in his last three games against the 'Fins, New England clearly utilized the pass far more than the run to win.
|Game||NE pass yards||NE pass TDs||NE rush yards||NE rush TDs|
|Week 5, 2006||140||2||79||0|
|Week 7, 2007||369||6||84||0|
|Week 16, 2007||215||3||196||1|
|Week 12, 2008||415||3||122||3|
The Dolphins rank sixth against the run and 21st against the pass. The Dolphins are starting two rookie cornerbacks while they have several quality veterans in their front seven. It doesn't take a Bill Belichick to realize how the Patriots are going to attack the Dolphins in Week 8, especially considering their track record.
Battle for first in the NFC East
The NFL schedule has great timing, doesn't it? Right when the Cowboys and Eagles each pull their way to 5-2, they meet for a chance for sole possession of first place in the division. This is almost as big a game as the last time these teams met when a playoff berth was on the line -- except one team, the Cowboys, forgot to show up.
The history between these teams is wacky. The winning team in the series has scored at least 38 points in three of the last four games -- with the fourth being a 10-6 clash the Eagles pulled out late in 2007. Offense is generally on display, but the central figures change from game to game. We suppose that's what makes this rivalry so thrilling.
Take Donovan McNabb , for example. He's thrown at least one touchdown in his last five against the Eagles but three of those games were exactly one touchdown. He hasn't topped 300 yards against them in his last four either.
Tony Romo is just as up and down, though there's a pattern to his play: He's had a 300-yard, three-touchdown game against Philly in their first meeting each year over the last two years but follows it up with a zero-touchdown clunker with paltry yardage in the latter matchup. That's been consistent since he took over the Cowboys' starting job, though in '06 he only faced the Eagles once -- late in the season -- and was bad.
Brian Westbrook , who is dealing with the lingering effects of a concussion suffered over a week ago, has seen his total yardage decline over his last four meetings with Dallas. He also hasn't scored in two of his last three against them, and that includes his infamous kneel-down at the Cowboys 1-yard line to preserve a win late in 2007. Fantasy owners who had Westbrook then and lost by less than six points were fuming -- some still haven't forgiven Westy for it.
And like Westbrook, Marion Barber also hasn't scored a touchdown in two of his last three in the series. Interestingly enough, his yardage has been decent in games where Romo has been strong and weak in the games where Romo is weak, again dating back through 2007. When he plays the Eagles for the first time in a year, he's averaged 110 total yards per game with at least one touchdown in each. When he plays the Eagles for the second time in a year, he's averaged 32.5 total yards with no touchdowns.
If there's one player who's provided some consistency over the years, it's Cowboys tight end Jason Witten . Romo has leaned on him quite a bit against the Eagles, completing at least six passes to him in four of their five games together with two 100-yard efforts, but with just one touchdown. That might change in 2009 as the Eagles have been dreadful in defending against tight ends, so Witten might find the end zone again -- and you can be sure he'll have opportunities to put up yardage.
In fact, Witten's history might be the only reliable data when studying this matchup: Westbrook will split carries, as will Barber, and Romo and McNabb both have some fresh new weapons to attack each others' defenses with. Your best bet is to play the hot hands from both teams in Fantasy.
Back-to-back nightmare for Broncos
|Here's a look at the teams who played the Ravens and Steelers in back-to-back games since 2004. Of the 14 teams which played them consecutively, only one won both games.|
|Eagles||2004||Won vs. BAL, lost @PIT|
|Titans||2005||Lost @PIT, won vs. BAL|
|Chargers||2006||Lost @BAL, won vs. PIT|
|Cardinals||2007||Lost @BAL, won vs. PIT|
|Browns||2007||Lost @PIT, won @BAL|
|Vikings||2009||Won vs. BAL, lost @PIT|
Just a few weeks back we made note of how the Vikings were trying to become only the second team in the last six years to defeat the Ravens and Steelers in consecutive weeks. They ultimately lost at Pittsburgh after beating Baltimore at home.
This week, the Broncos are hoping they're not the next victim of getting swept by the Steelers and Ravens in back-to-back weeks. If they lose to the Steelers at home, they'll be the eighth team to lose both matchups over the last six seasons.
The Broncos are at a huge disadvantage here because just last week Kyle Orton & Co. were tormented by the Ravens, who brought a heavy blitz and didn't seem too concerned about Orton firing deep passes. Their plan worked great, and with the Steelers surely watching while resting on their bye week, more of the same is probably in store.
To that extent, the Broncos have really tough odds: Of the 14 teams who played both the Ravens and Steelers in consecutive weeks, only five actually won the second matchup. That only makes sense since in the nine other instances, the blueprint for success was on display the week before.
It all doesn't bode well for the Broncos.
|Joseph Addai||At least one TD in each of last four vs. Houston|
|Cedric Benson||120 rush yards, 16 rec. yards, TD in Week 5 at BAL|
|Drew Brees||386 yards, 4 TDs, INT in last home game vs. CAR|
|Marques Colston||Seven rec., TD, at least 90 yards in last two games with catch vs. CAR|
|Jake Delhomme||8 TDs, one INT in last five vs. New Orleans|
|Chris Henry||Three catches, 92 yards in Week 5 vs. Ravens|
|Greg Jennings||Six rec., 109 yards, 2 TDs at TB last year|
|Peyton Manning||11 TDs, one INT, two 300-yard games (both at home) in last five vs. Texans|
|Ray Rice||143 total yards, TD vs. CIN in Week 5 (133 total yards in two matchups prior)|
|Steve Smith||256 yards, one TD in two games vs. NO last year (120-plus rec. yards in each)|
|Jonathan Stewart||TD and at least 50 rush yards in each '08 game vs. Saints|
|Reggie Wayne||330 yards, 2 TDs in last three vs. Texans (at least seven catches per game)|
|DeAngelo Williams||248 total yards, one TD in two '08 games vs. Saints|
|Antonio Bryant||Four catches, 39 yards vs. Packers last season|
|Reggie Bush||One TD in last five vs. Panthers|
|Donald Driver||One catch, 8 yards at Tampa Bay in '08|
|Joe Flacco||186 pass yards, one TD, two INTs vs. Bengals in Week 5|
|Ryan Grant||20 rush yards, minus-4 yards receiving in '08 game|
|Todd Heap||One TD, no games over 50 yards in last six vs. CIN|
|Devery Henderson||No TDs, one 100-yard game in last five vs. CAR|
|Derrick Mason||No catches vs. CIN in Week 5; one TD in last five meetings|
|Chad Johnson||One TD, no 100-yard games in last seven vs. BAL|
|Carson Palmer||Five TDs in last six vs. BAL (one in Week 5 matchup)|
|Aaron Rodgers||165 pass yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs at Bucs last season|
How do you think history will treat you? E-mail your Fantasy Football questions to DMFantasyFootball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Attn: History Lessons ing the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state and we'll get to as many as we can.