In search of their first win of the season, the Houston Texans play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Houston's switch from Brian Hoyer to Ryan Mallett at quarterback in Week 2 produced largely the same results, as the Texans fell to the Carolina Panthers with Mallet throwing the ball a whopping 58 times and posting a passer rating of 57.0
The Buccaneers, on the other hand, are fresh off their first win of the season, as Jameis Winston both ran and threw for a touchdown to lead to the team past the New Orleans Saints.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Jaguars and Patriots.
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1. Don't let J.J. Watt control the game
It sounds slightly strange to say that a defensive player could control the game, but we all know Watt can do exactly that. If he's able to get into Winston's face early and often in this one, it's going to make it tough for Tampa Bay to grab their second win in a row.
2. Pressure Mallett
Last week during Houston's 24-17 loss to Carolina, Mallett completed 27-of-58 passes for 244 yards. That's a 4.2 average per completion, which is exactly what the Buccaneers are hoping to see. The Buccaneers defense made life tough on Drew Brees last week, now they'll look to replicate that against Mallett.
3. Don't give up on the run
Obviously when the Buccaneers lost to the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, they were too far behind to continue to run the ball. In Week 2, this team ran the ball 35 times for 139 yards and a touchdown. The more the Buccaneers can run, the more they can control the clock. The Buccaneers defense performed well thanks to the extra rest, so Tampa just needs to keep the run game rolling.
1. Keep Mallett upright
The Texans' offensive line has been hit with injuries. Left tackle Duane Brown missed last week's game with a thumb injury and is day to day. Offensive lineman Jeff Adams is out for the season after injuring his knee against Carolina. Left guard Xavier Su'a-Filo has missed the first two games with a calf injury. All of this is bad news, as what may once again be a patchwork line faces a Tampa Bay defense that sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees four times and caused three turnovers. If Mallett is to lead Houston to its first victory, he needs to avoid being battered by the Bucs' defense.
2. Get the running game going
The Texans will once again be without Arian Foster, but the team needs to get something going on the ground to help make life easier for Mallett. Starting running back Alfred Blue ran for six yards on five carries last week and backup Chris Polk led the team with 38 yards on 14 carries. That has to change.
3. Rattle the rookie
Winston looked poised in leading Tampa Bay to the win last week, but he has yet to face a defensive front like Houston's. Watt has been tripled-teamed at times, but if that happens again, the Texans still have plenty of pass rush in the form of Vince Wilfork and Jared Crick. Houston needs to get to Winston early and prevent him from getting into rhythm.