Seahawks-Texans Preview

The Houston Texans came into this season with hopes of reaching

the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Seattle

Seahawks were trying to return following a woeful campaign.

Both teams, however, are all but out of postseason contention

heading into their matchup this week in Houston and have shifted

their focus.

The Texans will attempt to snap a four-game slide Sunday, while

the Seahawks are hoping to move a step closer to another winning

season.

Entering this year, Houston seemed to have its best chance to

reach the playoffs for the first time in its eight seasons of

existence. Second-year running back Steve Slaton was trying to

build off a surprising 1,282-yard rookie campaign, and quarterback

Matt Schaub was coming off his best season.

The team also had one of the NFL’s best receivers in Andre

Johnson, and emerging stars on defense in Mario Williams, DeMeco

Ryans and top draft pick Brian Cushing.

After alternating losses and wins in their first five games, the

Texans seemed to give their playoffs hopes a large boost with three

straight wins from Oct. 18-Nov. 1, but four straight losses have

followed.

Instead of playoff matchups, the talk for Houston (5-7) has

turned to whether coach Gary Kubiak will keep his job after going

22-26 in his three previous seasons. Kubiak’s team is currently two

games behind Jacksonville for the AFC’s final berth and trails four

other teams in the conference’s playoff hunt.

The Texans, however, can still clinch their first winning season

in franchise history by winning out.

“We need something good to happen to us,” Kubiak said. “Nobody’s

feeling very good right now … you’ve got to play back the

confidence, you’ve got to go out and make the plays to get your

confidence back as a football team and we’re going to do that.”

Not helping that confidence is the loss of Slaton, who has

struggled through a disappointing season but still has a team-best

437 yards. The running back was placed on injured reserve Wednesday

because of a nerve issue in his neck and is done for the

season.

Houston will look again to Chris Brown and Ryan Moats to help

revive a running game that’s tied for 29th in the NFL with 88.7

yards per game. Johnson and Schaub, who has a career-best 3,449

yards and 22 TDs, have helped the Texans become the league’s

fourth-best passing offense (278.9 ypg).

Houston’s defense, however, has struggled to keep opponents off

the scoreboard, giving up an average of 22.2 points. The Texans

have allowed at least 20 in each game of their skid, including last

week’s 23-18 loss at Jacksonville.

The Jaguars scored 17 straight points to open the game and

Houston didn’t get within a touchdown until 4:01 remaining.

Schaub’s dislocated his non-throwing shoulder on the team’s first

offensive play, and the Texans had three passers throw an

interception, including Brown.

After returning in the second quarter, Schaub is expected to

play again this week.

Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s sore throwing shoulder

hasn’t helped in his team’s attempt to bounce back from last

season’s 4-12 finish, but the lack of a complementary running game

has hurt more.

In their first season under Jim Mora Jr., the Seahawks are also

near the bottom with 93.4 rushing yards per game, but they’ve shown

signs of improvement on defense in their first back-to-back wins

this season.

After giving up an average of 30.2 points during a five-game

stretch, Seattle (5-7) has allowed 17 points in consecutive weeks,

including last week’s 20-17 victory over visiting San

Francisco.

Keeping the 49ers out of the end zone in the second half helped

set up Olindo Mare’s game-winning kick from 30 yards as time

expired.

The win kept alive the team’s hopes for its sixth winning season

in seven years. The Seahawks are technically alive for a postseason

berth, but are three games behind Philadelphia and Green Bay. They

also have two other teams in front of them and are among a group of

four 5-7 clubs in the NFC.

A loss and wins from the Eagles and Packers would officially

eliminate Seattle.

“It would be easy to look at all the mistakes we’ve made, and

look at the big mountain we have to climb to accomplish it, and get

discouraged,” Hasselbeck said. “So we just have to stay

focused.”

The teams have never played in Houston, and the Seahawks won the

only other meeting, 42-10 on Oct. 16, 2005.