Week 5 in the NFL brings a very important matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football in San Francisco. Both teams come in with an underachieving record of 2-2. I don’t think anyone predicted that these two teams would be struggling like they are – as many football analysts and fans predicted that they would both be playing in Super Bowl XLVIII.
San Francisco started the season out strong by beating the Green Bay Packers at home and then went on a two game skid. They lost to the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts and only scored 10 points total in those two games. The 49ers came back strong last Thursday night and finally put up points and beat the St. Louis Rams 35-11 on the road.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said that he got his motivation on Twitter with all of the negative stuff being said about him and his team. He then went on and had a strong performance against the Rams.
Houston started the season by coming from behind to beat the San Diego Chargers and the Tennessee Titans. There was no come from behind victory in week three vs. the Baltimore Ravens as the Texans were soundly whipped on the road by the Super Bowl Champions, 30-9. The tables were turned on the Texans last week as the visiting Seattle Seahawks came from behind to beat the Texans in overtime, 23-20. The Texans were winning this game 20-3 going into the fourth quarter. However, Russell Wilson mounted a drive that scored a touchdown by Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks were not finished as Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw an ill advised pass late in the fourth quarter that led to a Richard Sherman pick-six. The Seahawks would go on to win the game in overtime.
Matt Schaub has thrown three pick-sixes in the last three games. Many Texans fans are so upset with him that they even resorted to burning his football jersey. There has been so much negativity against Schaub after this last loss that he subsequently closed down his Twitter account. Let’s see where his motivation will come from.
The 49ers victory over the Rams was much needed and helped the San Francisco 49ers regain some confidence.
“I thought the team stared adversity in the face (with) a lot of grit and determination. The guys played with great energy and great toughness” said 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh.
After rushing for 142 yards in the first three games, 49ers running back Frank Gore ran for 153 and a touchdown against the Rams. Teammate and wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught five passes for 90 yards and a TD following the same two-game stretch in which he had six receptions for 74 yards total.
Colin Kaepernick completed 47.3 percent of his passes while throwing four interceptions, no touchdowns and taking six sacks versus Seattle and Indianapolis. Against the Rams, he went 15 of 23 for 167 yards but threw two TDs without a pick.
“We know the talent we have on this team” Kaepernick said. “We know what we’re capable of.”
A defensive unit that gave up 356 rushing yards to the Seahawks and Colts held the Rams to 18 even without stars Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith in the lineup.
“Really, a good team win when you look at the defense” Harbaugh said. “… What was most impressive was the way the guys played together as a unit.”
Like the 49ers, the Texans are mired in a mediocre start and looking to avoid a third consecutive defeat.
“We’re not where we want to be, but there’s a long, long way to go” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. “We’re a very capable football team, but we’ve got to be a more consistent football team.”
After the Texans blew a 17-point halftime lead in last Sunday’s 23-20 overtime loss to Seattle, the defeat prompted the team to hold a players-only meeting on Monday.
“This isn’t fun, man. I was sick of it after one loss” said defensive end J.J. Watt, who has recorded all 3 1/2 of his sacks in the last three games. “We’ll get it fixed. Everything that’s wrong will be fixed. I can promise that.”
Matt Schaub needs to show some improvement after throwing six interceptions already.
Despite those struggles, Kubiak has no plans to make a change.
“He’s our quarterback” he said. “I don’t see a lack of confidence. I see some poor decision-making situations. It’s something he has to handle and something we have to help him handle.”
Schaub should remain comfortable relying on running back Arian Foster, who recorded 171 total yards last Sunday after totaling 227 in the first three games.
Houston allowed an average of 91.3 rushing yards through the first three weeks of the season, but yielded 179 to the Seahawks.
Stopping Kaepernick and Gore could be tough for the Texans if linebacker Brian Cushing is unable to play after he suffered a concussion against Seattle. Cushing, who leads the team with 33 tackles, is being put through the league’s mandatory concussion protocol.
The Texans and 49ers split their previous two meetings with each winning at home by three points.
In Houston’s 24-21 victory over San Francisco in 2009, Schaub went 20 of 30 for 264 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. One of those touchdowns went to tight end Owen Daniels, who caught seven passes for 123 yards. Vernon Davis had three TD receptions for the 49ers in that contest, but Gore was held to 32 yards on 13 carries.
Houston Texans vs. San Fancisco 49ers Week 5 Prediction
All in all, I think the Texans strong running game and defense will prevail. J.J. Watt is looking sharp enough to handle Gore and Kaepernick. Boldin’s play has been up and down. It will be easier for Watt and the Texans defense if Cushing can play. Also, Texans left tackle Duane Brown said he expects to play Sunday night. He has missed the last two games and is an important part of the Texans offense. He will give Schaub more time and protection to make plays.
Final score Texans 24 – 49ers 17