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Game of the Week: Falcons at Texans
We may finally have an answer to the adage, "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?" Houston enters Week 13 with perhaps the most vaunted rushing attack in the league, flaunting the dynamic duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate behind a robust offensive line. Opposing the Texans this Sunday will be the Atlanta Falcons, who boast a rush resistance that has suffocated and agitated adversaries throughout the fall. This clash of opposing ideologies serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
With Foster and Tate serving as catalysts for the ground game, the Texans are second in the AFC in rushing, averaging 151.7 yards per game. Despite some injuries, as well as the delicate dance of distributing the workload between two elite rushers, the pair has combined for over 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
Yet Sunday should prove their greatest litmus test to date, as injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart have vaulted tenderfoot T.J. Yates into the starting signal caller role. The inexperience under center has put an even greater emphasis on the Houston backfield. With little help expected from Yates and the aerial attack, Foster and Tate will undoubtedly be up against a formidable Falcon front intent on impeding their routes.
The Texans are aided by the arrival of All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson, who made his first appearance last week since October 2. Johnson, along with Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, will try to keep the Falcons honest on D.
Atlanta can sympathize with the Texans, as they know a thing or two about injured receivers. The Falcons parade their own recently-returned wideout in Julio Jones, who has been hampered with a hamstring injury since October 16. Jones initially made his comeback in Week 9, but re-tweaked the issue against New Orleans in early November. The presence of Jones disallows opposing defenses from concentrating their efforts on Roddy White (64 receptions, 830 yards, four touchdowns) and Tony Gonzalez (59 catches, 630 yards, seven touchdowns), and helps open up the rushing lane for Michael Turner (948 yards, eight touchdowns).
As aforementioned, Atlanta sports an impermeable rush unit that is surrendering 83.5 yards per game, second-lowest in the NFL. The Falcons rank in the middle of the pack in points allowed (20.6), but have kept opponents under 20 points in four of their past five games.
The Texans are no slouch themselves on defense, as Houston's 16.3 points allowed per contest ranks first in the AFC thanks to their revamped secondary. The arrival of Johnathan Joseph has transformed the Texans from one of the most porous passing units in pigskin (a league-high 267.5 yards per game in 2010) to the other side of that spectrum, relinquishing 175.8 yards per outing.
So who wins this Week 13 encounter? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Texans come out on top 50.2 percent of the time by an average margin of 23-22. For the rest of this week's projections, check below:
Please note: The Colts/Patriots, Lions/Saints, Broncos/Vikimgs, Packers/Giants, Eagles/Seahawks and Chargers/Jaguars games were resimulated on 12/1 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 13
|@ New England Patriots||93.0||32||Simulate Game|
|St. Louis Rams||20.8||13||Boxscore|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||79.2||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||70.8||24||Simulate Game|
|@ New Orleans Saints||57.0||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Minnesota Vikings||53.4||18||Simulate Game|
|Kansas City Chiefs||48.1||21||Boxscore|
|@ Chicago Bears||51.9||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||50.2||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||43.8||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Miami Dolphins||40.9||17||Simulate Game|
|@ Buffalo Bills||37.9||19||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||65.9||24||Boxscore|
|@ New York Giants||34.1||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||33.1||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Seattle Seahawks||31.5||17||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||69.6||25||Boxscore|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||30.4||17||Simulate Game|
|New York Jets||73.5||26||Boxscore|
|@ Washington Redskins||26.5||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Cleveland Browns||19.6||13||Simulate Game|
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