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Game Preview: Raiders vs. Texans

The Oakland Raiders host the Houston Texans in the home opener at Coliseum. The Week 2 match-up brings together teams who have faced each other several times over the past five seasons. Houston and Oakland matched up in 2009-2011 and 2013. The Raiders lost in 2009 and 2010, but took the next two in 2011 and 2013.

Each of the Raiders last two victories against the Texans was memorable. In 2011, the team took the field the day after long-time owner and heart of the Raiders, Al Davis, passed away. Former FS Michael Huff intercepted a pass in the end zone to seal the victory on an emotional day at Reliant Stadium. In 2013, QB Matt McGloin made his first career start and threw three touchdowns to lead the team to a win on the road.

Now, in 2014, QB Derek Carr will make his second-career start and play for the first time in a regular season game at Coliseum. The Silver and Black are looking for their first win of the season and are hoping to find that "W" in front of Raider Nation Sunday.

"We learned a lot after that first loss against New York and it's time to put everything together and really take advantage of our opportunities because we have so many on our side of the ball that we can control to help the game," said LB Sio Moore.

The Texans won their Week 1 match-up over the Redskins. Houston has talented players on both sides of the football including WR Andre Johnson, RB Arian Foster and DE J.J. Watt. "We're excited about the opportunity – we've got the Houston Texans coming in here. It's a good football team," said Head Coach Dennis Allen. "When you watch their team, defensively, I think they're outstanding. I think they're very fast throughout their defense. J.J. Watt is obviously one of the best players in the National Football League, so he's a guy that we've got to contend with and we've got to understand where he's going to be. They do a good job moving him around, putting him in some different spots. I think they're active in the secondary. They've played well back there in the back end and they played well the other day against Washington and really throughout the preseason."

Coach Allen continued, "Offensively, obviously Andre Johnson is a big play threat for them out at wide receiver. I think they've got a lot of good, solid tight ends. Schematically they're similar to some of the things that they've done in the run game. They do a good job up front and I think Arian Foster is one of those top backs in the league. So, it's a great challenge and we've got to be ready to play."


The Raiders offense struggled to get their run game going at MetLife Stadium last week and know it will be a challenge again this week against the Texans front seven. "Really when you look at their front seven, they're very active throughout their front seven," said Coach Allen. "They do a great job of getting after the passer and so, it's obviously going to be a tough challenge."

The offensive line will have to focus on Watt, who Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson described as, "single-handedly wreck[ing] the football game for the Redskins."

Carr, who was pressured significantly by the Jets, will need to be aware of Watt's pressure. "He plays a high motor. I respect the heck out of guys that play hard all the time," said the rookie QB. "I have nothing but respect for him. Obviously, he's one of, if not the best players not just at what he does, but players in the NFL. So it'll be fun to play against him, obviously. You always want to play against the best and he is definitely one of them."

Penn will have his hands full with Watt, who plays on both sides of the line. "I feel like he's probably the best defensive player in the league, so our work's going to be cut out for us," said Penn. "I feel like he's the anchor of that whole team, not even just the defense, the offense too. As hard as he goes, that's how hard his team goes and he's been playing great football this year. I kind of love matchups like that, because you get to show the best against the best. I'm looking forward to it, but it's not going to be easy. I know that, the o line knows that, and we're going to have a plan for him, and we're going to have to know where he is every play."



WR Denarius Moore scores a TD against the Texans in Houston in 2013. Photo by Tony Gonzales

Barnes faced Watt in the Raiders match-up with the Texans last season. "He's just good. He plays with a lot of passion. I think that's what makes him really good. He's a strong player," said Barnes. "He's athletic. He can do a variety of moves and he just plays with a relentless effort, so with all that combined he's really explosive that way."

But the Raiders offensive front can't lose sight of the rest of the Texans defensive linemen. "The thing is, really when you look at their front seven, they're very active throughout their front seven," said Coach Allen. "They do a great job of getting after the passer and so, it's obviously going to be a tough challenge."

"They have 10 other guys that are great," added T Donald Penn. "They have [Brian] Cushing coming back. They have a couple of other guys that are real good on that defense, so you definitely can't fall asleep, but you don't want one man to wreck the show. We have to make sure that we're handling all the other 10 and making sure that Watt's not wrecking the whole show."

The running backs will be looking out for the linebacking corps. "Just looking at them, they're some guys that can really get after it," said RB Darren McFadden. "Brian Cushing is a guy who has been playing in this league a long time, and he does a great job."

Despite the challenges coming from the Texans defense, the Raiders offense understands that it needs to find its own rhythm in order to be successful this week. "We just have to stay on schedule. I feel like we got off schedule a little bit so it made it harder for us to run, and then falling behind early, it's going to be hard running the ball," said McFadden. "One of things for us is we just need to stay on schedule and that way we can try to get our running game going."

The Texans defense has been impressed by the Raiders rookie quarterback and the various weapons on the Silver and Black's offense. "He's shown great confidence and his team has shown confidence in him, so that's good," said Watt. "They have a couple of very good running backs, and obviously some speed at the wide receiver position, a good offensive line up front .They're a good football team, and we're looking forward to the challenge."



]( has a new quarterback at the helm as well, but their offensive leader is a veteran. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is in his 10th NFL season. "He's a smart, tough football player. He figures things out and he competes," said Defenisve Coordinator Jason Tarver on Fitzpatrick. "Anytime you're smart and tough and you compete every play-in and play-out, you're a match-up. So we've got to understand how he moves in the pocket. We've got to understand how he throws. We've got to understand how the offense is going and use our rules to prevent that. But he's good when the play breaks down, so we need to make sure that we continue to play. As long as that play takes, we need to be continuing to play."

Fitzpatrick has a powerful, patient runner in the backfield in Foster. "He's a good runner. He's a great, patient, get vertical, get positive yards runner," said Coach Tarver. "We got to get as many of our players as we can – we're only allowed 11 on the field, so we've got to get all 11 to him as many times as possible."

The linebackers will be active in containing Foster. "From what I've seen on film, he's a good back. He's a very patient runner," said Moore. "He's a good route runner out of the backfield and he's a great cutback runner. You have to be sound against him and you really have to make sure you bring your 'A' game to get to him and the O-line."

DT Antonio Smith played for the Texans for several years and is familiar with what Foster brings to the table. "I think if you give him a slight curtain he can hurt you pretty bad," said Smith. "We're going to have to play just as aggressive as Washington did, and put as many hats on him as you can, because just when you think you have him, especially in that zone scheme, they can break one big run on you."

To balance out the run game, the Texans have Johnson at the receiver position. "The guy is an excellent football player. He's an excellent pro," said rookie CB TJ Carrie. "The way he carries his game is very professional. You definitely have to try to pick and choose your battles in guarding him, knowing the situational of when he might get the ball and applying all your techniques."

The Raiders are disregarding the Texans' 2013 record and are focused on the talent coming into Coliseum Sunday.

The home team is excited to see Raider Nation rocking in the Black Hole. "The blood is boiling and the heart is pounding for the crowd that we're about to receive at this first home game and I'm just ready to enjoy it," said Carrie, playing in his first regular season game at home.

McFadden, who will likely see a majority of the carries if Maurice Jones-Drew is unable to go, is ready for the fans' energy. "I'm very excited. I always love playing here, playing at home and being in front of the Black Hole," said McFadden. "It's always a great feeling to go out there and excite our fans."

The intensity of the home opener has the veterans and rookies pumped up and ready to go. "This crowd has always been good. The last two preseason games have been electrifying out there, so this one I expect to be amped up a little more," said Barnes. "It's the season opener against a good team so you can't ask for much more. This is going to be a good one."

Sunday's game against the Texans is sold out and will be shown locally on CBS (KPIX) 5 at 1:25 p.m. PT. You can listen to the game on 98.5 KFOX/102.1 KBLX or you can follow along on, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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