Stats & Info: Arian Foster

Top Stats to Know: Colts over Texans

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10

Scott Halleran/Getty Images J.J. Watt set his sights on Andrew Luck, but the Colts QB had his eyes on on T.Y. Hilton all night.
It was billed as a battle of Andrew Luck and J.J. Watt, and while the AFC South’s young superstars shined, they were far from alone in producing some eye-popping statistics in the most tightly contested Thursday night game of the season.

It’s better to be Luck-y
Andrew Luck threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to running back Ahmad Bradshaw and tight end Coby Fleener. Luck has thrown more touchdown passes this season (13) to tight ends and running backs, than any other quarterback in the league.

Luck clicked on deep throws to T.Y. Hilton, going five-for-five on passes of 15 yards or more to No. 13, while connecting on just one-of-five such throws to others. Luck’s nine targets to Hilton averaged 20.8 yards downfield while his 35 targets to others averaged 5.6 yards from the line of scrimmage.

J.J. What?
After previously scoring on a reception and an interception, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt scored his third touchdown of the season, this time on a fumble recovery. Not only does he have more touchdowns this season than fantasy top picks LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte combined, he became the first player since Billy Stacy of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1961, and fifth player in NFL history, to score on a reception, interception and fumble recovery during the same season.

Watt also batted down three Andrew Luck passes. Entering Thursday’s game Watt had batted down just two passes all season. The three bat-down tied his career-high, and give him 31 since he entered the NFL in 2011. That’s seven more than any other player over that span.

T.Y. very much
T.Y. Hilton had a first quarter for the ages. His 223 yards were the second-most by a Colt, just one behind Raymond Berry’s 224 at Washington on November 10, 1957.

Hilton’s 147 first-quarter yards were the most in the opening stanza of a game since Buffalo’s Lee Evans had 205 receiving yards in Week 11 of 2006. Coincidentally, that game was also against the Texans.

Hilton ended the first half with 156 receiving yards to join Marvin Harrison (154 against San Diego) as the only Colts since the start of the Peyton Manning era with 150 receiving yards in the first half of a game.

This was Hilton’s 11th career 100-yard receiving game, moving him into sole possession of sixth-place on the Colts’ franchise list, behind the Who’s Who of Colts greats: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Raymond Berry, Johnny Orr and Lenny Moore.

Foster owns the red zone
Since becoming the Texans primary ball carrier in 2010, nobody has scored as many rushing touchdowns from inside the opponents’ 20-yard line as Arian Foster who glided in for two more Red Zone scores against the Colts. His 41 red-zone rushing touchdowns are two more than another noted short-field powerhouse, Marshawn Lynch, who entering Sunday’s game with the Cowboys, ranks second on the list.

Foster’s two scores give him eight career touchdowns against the Colts, his most against any opponent. Since the NFL-AFL merger, only Maurice Jones-Drew (14), Antowain Smith (10), O.J. Simpson (10), John Riggins (9) and Thurman Thomas (9) have reached the end zone more often against the horseshoe-helmeted defense.

Houston has a problem: Its offense

October, 8, 2013

Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsMatt Schaub has thrown a pick-six in an NFL-record four straight games.
After a 2-0 start the Texans found themselves ranked fourth in Week 3's NFL Power Rankings.

Since then the Texans have lost three in a row and now find themselves ranked 17 in this week's poll.

Matt Schaub has taken the brunt of the blame for the Texans’ struggles this season. With nine interceptions and an NFL-record four straight games with an interception returned for a touchdown, some of the blame seems to be deserved.

But is Schaub the real root of the Texans’ offensive problems, or do the issues run deeper?

No big plays off play action

Play action has been a staple of the Texans’ offense under Gary Kubiak. Since taking over as head coach, the Texans have used play action on 24 percent of their pass attempts, tied for the third-highest rate in the NFL.

This season the Texans are not only using play action less frequently (17 percent of pass attempts), they are using it differently.

A look at the image below shows the pass distribution for Schaub using play action from 2011 to 2012, when the Texans went 22-10.

During that time frame, Schaub had 36 pass plays of 30-plus yards, which ranked 13th in the NFL, 20 short of the leader (Drew Brees). Of those 36, however, an NFL-high 23 were set-up by play action, five more than the next-highest quarterback.

A look at the second image below shows Schaub’s pass distribution when using play action this season.

None of Schaub’s play action passes this season have been thrown more than 20 yards downfield, a stark contrast to the previous two seasons.

In fact, Schaub’s average play action pass has been thrown 3.8 yards downfield this season (9.7 yards the previous two seasons), a deeper average than only Blaine Gabbert.

As a result, the Texans have only four 30-plus yard pass plays, tied for 26th in the NFL. None of those pass plays for Texans have come via play action.

Too much Foster?
Despite double-digit touchdowns in each of the previous three seasons, Arian Foster's ground efficiency has dipped every year since his breakout 2010 season.

The reason for Foster’s dip in production may just be overuse. Foster has a combined 1,230 rushes and receptions since the start of the 2010 season, 101 more than the next highest player.

The Texans already have a capable backup on the roster in Ben Tate.

Tate has averaged 2.2 more yards per rush than Foster this season on 56 fewer rushes and has shown an ability to break through tacklers in his career.

This season, Tate has averaged 3.6 yards per rush after first contact, best of any player with 20 rushes. Tate also led the NFL in 2011 in average yards after contact.

No TD for Andre Johnson
Whether it’s Schaub’s decision-making, the play calling or a defensive mindset, Andre Johnson just can’t find the end zone.

Johnson has the third most targets this season (56) and no touchdowns.

When the Texans do get in scoring range, Johnson hasn’t been the go-to guy. Johnson is the fourth-most targeted Texan in the red zone this season, and of the Texans’ eight throws into the end zone, Johnson was the target on only one.

Top things to know: Texans at Chargers

September, 9, 2013

Brett Davis/US PresswireJ.J. Watt played 88% of the Texans defensive snaps in 2012, 6th best among all D-linemen.
The Houston Texans and San Diego Chargers finish Week 1 of the 2013 season with the second game of tonight's Monday Night Football doubleheader (10 ET/ESPN).

Here’s five stats Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer will be talking about during the game.

1. The Texans feature the 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in J.J. Watt, who had an incredible year dominating the line of scrimmage last season.

Among the amazing tidbits that can be taken from his stellar campaign is that he batted down 16 passes – more than 26 different TEAMS.

Watt finished last season with nearly twice as many batted passes as the next highest defender. However, Philip Rivers had just 4 of his passes batted down last season, fewer than 29 quarterbacks.

2. Philip Rivers has been the man under center for the Chargers since 2006. Things went well for the first four years (46-18 record), but the last three have seen a rapid decline (24-24).

In addition, since Rivers became the starter, he has the most fumbles in the NFL (64) and has been sacked 216 times, second highest in the league.

3. Since Arian Foster joined the Texans four seasons ago, his presence has translated into success in the play-action passing game for Matt Schaub.

The Texans QB ranks near the top of the league in many passing categories on play-action since the 2009 season. He’s second in yards per attempt (10.6) and TD passes (37), third in completion percentage (67.5) and fourth in Total QBR (88.1) in play-action passing.

4. During training camp, wide receiver Danario Alexander suffered a season-ending knee injury, leaving Rivers without one of his best deep threats.

Alexander represented a large portion of the offense generated by Chargers wide receivers last year, despite the fact that he only played in ten games.

5. The Texans are 8-2 in September in the last three seasons, and have won all three of their season openers over that time. The Chargers are 5-2 in season openers with Philip Rivers as the starting quarterback.

On Monday Night Football, Houston is 2-4 all-time, including 1-1 last season. The Chargers are 4-1 when opening their season on Monday Night Football.

Texans-Patriots: Seven stats to know

January, 8, 2013

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesMatt Schaub (left) leads the Texans into Foxborough to face Tom Brady (right) and the Patriots. New England beat Houston 42-14 in Week 14.
The last game of the Divisional round kicks off Sunday at 4:30 ET when the Houston Texans visit the New England Patriots.

Here are seven notes, nuggets and numbers you need to know heading into the matchup:

Final Four Repeat
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, all four remaining AFC teams reached the Divisional round last season, the first time the same teams were the “Final Four” in a conference in back-to-back seasons.

Blowout Rematch
The Patriots beat the Texans 42-14 in Week 14 in Foxborough. According to Elias, teams that lost by 28 or more (like the Texans) to a team that it then faced again in the playoffs are 11-11 in the rematch.

In fact, the team that lost the regular season game has won three of the past five rematches, most recently in 2010 when the Jets beat the Patriots in Foxborough after losing 45-3 in the regular season.

Patriots Have Their Number
The Patriots are the No. 2 seed for the fourth time in franchise history -- they made the Super Bowl in each of the previous three seasons, winning twice.

Tom Brady
Brady Has Bunch of Wins
Tom Brady is 16-6 in 22 career playoff starts, tied with Joe Montana for the most wins by a starting quarterback in NFL playoff history.

However, he’s 6-6 in his past 12 postseason starts after winning his first 10.

Foster’s Great Start
After running for 140 yards last week, Arian Foster enters the game with 425 postseason rushing yards, the most for a player in his first three career postseason games, according to Elias. The record for a player in his first four postseason games is 515 by Terrell Davis, according to Elias.

Schaub Has Been Stumped
Matt Schaub has thrown three interceptions and no touchdowns in his past three games, his first time without a touchdown pass in three straight games since 2007.

Texans on the Defensive
The Texans defense was stout last week, holding the Bengals to 0-for-9 on third down last week. Elias tells us that it was the first time an NFL team had been held without a third-down conversion in a postseason game since the playoffs following the 1988 season, when the Bills went 0-for-10 against the Bengals.

Foster continues playoff dominance

January, 5, 2013

Brett Davis/USA TODAY SportsArian Foster has had at least 100 rushing yards in each of his three career playoff games.
For the second straight season, the Houston Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs. It’s the fourth time under the current playoff format (since 1990) that two teams met in the wild-card round two years in a row, and in each instance, the team that won the first game also won the second game.

Not much changed as far as Bengals postseason history is concerned. They still have never won a road playoff game (0-6) and they still have not won a playoff game since 1990. Since the last time the Bengals won a playoff game, every other NFL team has won at least one.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is now 0-4 in the playoffs. Jim E. Mora is the only coach with more postseason losses without a win (0-6).

Arian Foster, who finished with 140 rushing yards and the game’s lone offensive touchdown, is the first player in NFL history with at least 100 rushing yards in each of his first three career playoff games. His 425 rushing yards are the most ever in a player’s first three postseason games (according to the Elias Sports Bureau).

With the loss, the Bengals fall to 5-11 all-time in the postseason, the worst win percentage (.313) in NFL history.

The Texans are now 6-0 this season in games decided by eight points or fewer (including the postseason). They’re the only team this season that did not lose a game by eight points or fewer.

What went right for the Texans?

Foster finished with a career-high 40 touches, recording 174 yards from scrimmage. He became the second running back this season to record at least 140 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards in a game (Jamaal Charles in Week 3). Foster recorded 41 percent of Houston’s offense, his third-highest rate this season, and caught all of his season-high eight targets through the air.

The Texans sent at least five pass-rushers on 40 percent (14-of-35) of Andy Dalton’s drop-backs, compared to only 21 percent (10-of-47) in last year’s postseason matchup. The Texans were much more successful pressuring Dalton with extra rushers this time, putting him under duress or sacking him on six of 14 drop-backs, Dalton’s second-highest rate this season.

What went wrong for the Bengals?

They were 0-for-9 on third downs. But that shouldn’t be a surprise, as the Bengals ranked 27th in third-down percentage (34.1) during the regular season.

Bengals receivers were held to 38 yards after the catch Saturday. That’s the fewest yards after the catch for the Bengals in a game this season.

Bengals-Texans: What you need to know

January, 1, 2013
The Houston Texans will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday at 4:30 ET in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs.

Same game, different year
This is the 4th time under the current playoff format that teams are meeting in the Wild Card round in back-to-back seasons. In each of the previous three instances, the team that won the first game also won the second game.

It’s been a while
The Bengals’ last playoff win was a 41-14 victory over the Houston Oilers in the 1990 Wild Card Playoffs. They’ve lost 4 straight postseason games since then, each by at least 10 points. Every other current NFL franchise has won a playoff game since the Bengals last win.

Cincy road woes
The Bengals are 0-5 all-time on the road in the postseason, tied with the Saints (also 0-5) for the worst road record in NFL postseason history.

Rare company for Dalton
Andy Dalton will become the 4th quarterback in NFL history to start a road playoff game in each of his first two seasons. He joins Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco and Shaun King.

Schaub likes the Bengals
Matt Schaub is 2-0 in 2 career starts against the Bengals with 7 touchdowns and a single interception. Of the 16 teams he has faced more than once since 2008, Schaub’s Total QBR of 89.4 against the Bengals is his best against any team.

Foster seeing red
Arian Foster has the most red zone rush attempts (74) and touchdowns (15) in the NFL this season. The Bengals defense has allowed 3.3 rush yards per attempt in the red zone this season, the third-most in the league.

Tip drill
The Texans batted or tipped 37 passes this season, with 16 coming from J.J. Watt (both best in NFL). Andy Dalton has had 32 passes batted or tipped since entering the NFL (third most), including five in two games against the Texans last season, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Watt.

Green likes play action
A.J. Green has four touchdown catches this season on play-action passes, tied for third-most in the league. Andy Dalton has not thrown a touchdown pass to any other receiver out of play action this season.

Texans, Schaub face pressure in Indy

December, 28, 2012

USA TODAY SportsWho has the edge in Week 17: Matt Schaub or Andrew Luck?
Two weeks ago the Houston Texans beat the Indianapolis Colts, 29-17, denying the Colts their 10th win of the season. On Sunday Indianapolis will look to get revenge against its AFC South rival.

If history is any indication, the Colts should have the advantage on paper. The Texans are 0-10 all-time on the road against the Colts. That’s tied for the most road losses vs an opponent without a win in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

What the game means
The Texans can clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win or losses by the Broncos and Patriots. Houston can also clinch a first-round bye with a loss by the Broncos or Patriots.

The Colts are already locked into the 5-seed in the AFC but still have plenty to play for. This will be the first game with Chuck Pagano on the sidelines since the Colts head coach was diagnosed with leukemia in early October.

When the Texans have the ball
Matt Schaub has struggled in the past few weeks with just one touchdown pass in his last three games. He has been sacked eight times during this stretch, after entering Week 14 with the second-lowest sack rate in the league (min. 200 attempts).

Schaub hasn’t been able to handle the blitz recently, posting a Total QBR of 47.3 against five-or-more pass rushers in his last three games, compared to a 67.8 QBR before this stretch.

The Colts have blitzed at a rate of 40.6 percent, more often than all but two teams this season. However, their Total QBR allowed using at least five pass rushers ranks only 16th in the league.

Schaub will be happy to see Arian Foster in the backfield on Sunday after he missed much of last week's game with an irregular heartbeat. Foster has rushed for 164 yards per game versus the Colts.

According to Elias, the only player to rush for more yards per game versus a single opponent (minimum three games) is Earl Campbell, who rushed for 164.3 yards per game against the Vikings.

When the Colts have the ball
Andrew Luck is the most prolific rookie quarterback in NFL history, but he has struggled with his accuracy recently. Luck has completed less than half of his passes in each of his last four games.

The only other player in the last 10 seasons to have a completion rate below 50 percent in four straight games, with at least 20 attempts in each game, is Mark Sanchez this year.

He will be challenged to get above the 50 percent mark against the Texans. Luck has had more of his passes defended (77) than any other quarterback in the league, 17 of which have been batted at the line of scrimmage.

The Texans defense has defended an NFL-best 80 passes this season, including a league-leading 27 batted passes.

Stat of the game
With a win Sunday, the Colts would become the seventh team in NFL history to win at least nine games more than in their previous season. Of the six other teams to post at least a nine-game improvement, only the 1999 Rams went on to win the Super Bowl/League championship that season.

Better running game: Patriots or Texans?

December, 6, 2012

Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesArian Foster leads the AFC with 1,102 rushing yards this season.
Each week, Stats & Information has a point-counterpoint discussion on an NFL topic of note. This week, two of our stat analysts weigh in on the Monday Night Football matchup, discussing whose ground game is more effective, the Patriots or Texans.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots’ running game has been more effective and is essential to the team’s third-down success. The Patriots lead the league converting 52.9 percent of their third downs, and have 116 rush first downs, also best in the league.

Stevan Ridley has been the key to the rejuvenated rush attack and has become just the fourth Patriots running back in the Bill Belichick era to eclipse 1,000 yards (1,010). He also leads the league with 66 rushing first downs.

As a team, the Patriots have run the ball 20 times this season on third or fourth down with one yard to go and have converted on 90 percent of those plays, the highest rate in the league.

The Texans are 14th in the league in the same situations, converting 68.2 percent.

Ridley leads the team with seven of these conversions on eight attempts, and Tom Brady is 5-for-5 with a touchdown. In fact, at 98.1 percent, Brady leads the NFL in third-and-1 conversion percentage since the 2001 season (his first year as a starter) among anyone with at least 25 such attempts.

The Patriots not only have been rushing more frequently and for more yards in 2012, but they are relying on the ground game to come up with crucial yards and key first downs.

-Adam Grigely

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans’ run game is the key to their ball-control offense. Houston has run the ball 413 times, most in the NFL. Their average time of possession per game (34:07) is also more than every other team.

The catalyst to the Texans’ running game is Arian Foster, who has the most rushes in the NFL (283) and the most rushing yards in the AFC (1,102).

The closer the Texans get to their opponent’s goal line, the better Foster becomes. Foster has 13 rushing touchdowns in the red zone, with 10 of them coming in goal-to-go situations. Both totals lead the NFL.

Even when defenses load the tackle box by having more defenders than the offense has available blockers, the Texans are among the best running teams in the league. They have an NFL-high 19 rushing first downs in those situations and are tied for the league lead with five rushing touchdowns.

The Texans’ ability to run the ball has helped open up play action. Matt Schaub has 10 touchdown passes off of play fakes, tied with Peyton Manning and Drew Brees for the most in the NFL. Their running game is a main reason the Texans are 11-1, tied with the Falcons for the best record in the NFL.

-Bobby Greenhalgh

Foster's inside rushing keys Texans win

October, 9, 2012

Getty ImagesTexans running back Arian Foster became the third-fastest (40 games) to 5,000 yards from scrimmage in NFL history Monday.
The Houston Texans used a healthy dose of Arian Foster and an aggressive pass rush to improve to 5-0 and further complicate a tumultuous season for Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets.

Foster became the third-fastest player in NFL history to reach 5,000 yards from scrimmage, netting the milestone in 40 games. Only Edgerrin James (36 games) and Eric Dickerson (39 games) reached the milestone faster.

Foster also rushed for at least 100 yards for the 18th time since 2010, which leads the NFL in that span.

Of Foster’s 152 rushing yards, 147 came inside the tackles, his most in a game this season and the third-most in a game in his career.

Houston’s Matt Schaub threw his 100th career touchdown in a Texans uniform when he connected with Owen Daniels for the first score of the game.

Schaub remained unbeaten in his past nine starts, a stretch dating back to Week 7 of the 2011 season. In those games, Schaub has completed 64 percent of his attempts with 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

While the offense clicked, the Houston defense chased after Sanchez.

The Texans sent five or more pass rushers on 21 of the Jets’ 35 dropbacks Monday (60.0 percent), their highest percentage in a game this season.

All three of the Texans’ sacks Monday came when they sent five or more pass rushers, after they had two sacks in those situations in the first four weeks of the season.

While all was well on the Texans sideline, the same was not true on the opposite side.

Sanchez threw a pair of interceptions and fumbled twice (though neither fumble was lost). Since coming into the league in 2009, Sanchez has 15 games where he’s thrown at least two interceptions, tied with Drew Brees and Eli Manning for second-most in the league (Ryan Fitzpatrick leads all in that span with 17 such games).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sanchez is the first quarterback since Stoney Case with the 1999 Ravens with four straight games of at least 25 pass attempts and a completion percentage below 50 percent.

After scoring four offensive touchdowns in their season opener, the Jets offense has stagnated in their past four games. The Jets offense has scored just three touchdowns in those four games, with a third-down conversion percentage below 29 percent.

And since posting an impressive 97.1 Total QBR in the Jets’ season opener, Sanchez’s QBR by game is as follows: 46.4, 34.3, 2.8 and 10.0 on Monday. Sanchez has two of the 11 lowest QBR games (among qualified passers) this season.
US Presswire/Don McPeakArian Foster will be looking for running room, which may be tough to come by, against the Ravens.
The Houston Texans-Baltimore Ravens playoff matchup doesn’t have quite the quarterback matchup of the Tim Tebow-Tom Brady rematch in the other AFC Divisional Round playoff game, but it has plenty of intriguing storylines nonetheless.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup here:

When the Ravens have the ball
Earlier this week, we detailed how valuable home-field advantage has been for the Ravens offense and quarterback Joe Flacco. His play will be a huge key in this game.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Flacco will be the first quarterback to start a playoff game in each of his first four seasons.

Flacco had career lows in completion percentage (58 percent) and yards per attempt (6.7) in 2011 and tied a career high with 12 interceptions. But much of that came in the early part of the season.

Flacco finished strong in his last seven games, completing 63 percent of his throws, with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. Flacco’s Total QBR in that span was 68.6, ninth-best in the NFL (only one spot behind Brady and his 72.0 Total QBR).

When the Ravens keep the ball on the ground, they’ll pound it between the tackles with Ray Rice. Only Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew had more rushes between the tackles this season than Ray Rice.

Rice scored 10 of his 12 rushing touchdowns on rushes between the tackles after scoring 11 such touchdowns the previous three seasons.

Fullback Vonta Leach, formerly with the Texans, will help pave the way for Rice. The All-Pro has been the fullback on 325 halfback runs this season and those runs produced 1,463 yards and 14 touchdowns, all NFL highs.

The Texans defended runs between the tackles well at the end of the regular season. They yielded 3.6 yards per run to that area in the final four games, fifth-best in the NFL, but they did allow 4.4 per carry in their win over the Bengals last week.

When the Texans have the ball
After completing only five throws of at least 15 yards in the air in his last three regular season games, Texans quarterback T.J. Yates was 4-for-8 on such throws in the Wild Card playoff win over the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Three of those went to Andre Johnson, including a key touchdown reception.

The Ravens figure to be ready for longer throws. In their last four games, they held opponents to 10-for-29 on throws of that length, a rate that was tied for sixth-best in the NFL in that span.

When the Texans run, it will be worth keeping an eye on their success running both inside and outside the tackles. Arian Foster had 71 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win by running outside the tackles, and 29 yards on three carries doing so against the Ravens in Week 6.

But when forced inside against Baltimore, Foster struggled, netting only 20 yards on 12 carries in that 29-14 defeat.

This season, the Ravens have allowed the fewest yards per rush (3.51) between the tackles of any NFL team.

Stats of the Game
The Texans are 0-5 all-time against the Ravens. The only other team the Texans have played five or more times and never beat is the Jets (0-5).

Ravens coach John Harbaugh is one of two coaches in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first three seasons, along with former Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer. No coach has ever won a playoff game in each of his first four seasons.

AP PhotoRookie quarterbacks T.J. Yates (left) and Andy Dalton (right) meet in the Wild Card Playoffs on Saturday.
The NFL Playoffs kick off Saturday at 4:30 Eastern with the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Reliant Stadium to take on the Houston Texans.

The two teams met in Cincinnati in Week 14, when the Texans scored the final 10 points and won on a six-yard Kevin Walter touchdown with two seconds left that clinched the AFC South title. Houston has won the last three meetings between the teams.

In the 10th season for the franchise, this is the first playoff game in Texans history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the nine seasons before appearing in the playoffs is the fourth-most for any NFL franchise to debut since 1960. Ironically, the three teams to wait longer are all in the playoffs this season as well.

The Bengals are in the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons, but haven’t won a postseason game since the 1990 Wild Card Playoffs and are 0-4 all-time in road playoff games. They’ve lost three straight playoff games, and have the longest active streak without a playoff win in the NFL. Cincinnati’s last win was against another franchise from Houston – a 41-14 win over the Oilers on Jan. 6, 1991.

The greatest season ever for rookie quarterbacks continues. Rookie quarterbacks combined to win 23 games during the regular season, the most of any season in the Super Bowl era. Saturday’s matchup will be the first playoff game in NFL history with each team starting a rookie quarterback. The winner will be the third rookie starting quarterback to win a playoff game in the last four seasons and the fifth in the Super Bowl era.

Andy Dalton became the third rookie in league history with 3,000 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns. Cam Newton and Peyton Manning also passed both thresholds, but Dalton is the first to do so and lead his team to the playoffs.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, the Texans should be able to exploit one of Dalton’s weaknesses. Dalton had 79 passes batted or defended this season, most in the NFL. The Texans’ defense led the league with 94 passes batted or defended, including eight against Dalton in their regular-season meeting.

The Texans will look to their running game to take the pressure off T.J. Yates. Arian Foster tied for the league lead with seven 100-yard rushing games this season despite missing three games. Over the last two seasons, he leads the NFL in rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns.

Ben Tate provides a complement for Foster in the Texans’ running game. Foster was fifth in the NFL this season with 725 rushing yards prior to contact. Among players with at least 150 rushes, Tate led the league with 2.9 yards per rush after contact. Despite 103 fewer rush attempts, Tate had nine more yards after contact than Foster.

Of the two, Tate could have more success against the Bengals defense. Cincinnati allowed 2.0 yards per rush before contact this season, the third-lowest total in the league. However, the Bengals allowed 1.9 yards after contact per rush, seventh-worst in the NFL. The Texans led the league with 1,133 yards after contact this season.
Matt Schaub
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is expected to miss the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury. At 7-3, the Texans are above .500 after 10 games for the first time in franchise history.

Schaub’s foot is just the latest injury for the Texans. Running back Arian Foster missed two of the team’s first three games, wide receiver Andre Johnson has missed the last six games with an injured hamstring and linebacker Mario Williams is out for the season.

Schaub has started 46 straight games for the Texans, and before missing the end of Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was one of seven quarterbacks to take every snap for his team this season.

Schaub is the Texans’ all-time leader in passing touchdowns, passing yards, attempts and completions. In 2009, he led the NFL with 4,770 passing yards. While he might not be a household name nationally, he is ranked fifth in Total QBR since the 2008 season.

He was at his best throwing the ball downfield, especially to injured All-Pro Johnson. Since the start of the 2008 season, Schaub led the NFL with a 56.1 completion percentage on throws 15+ yards downfield, and even with Johnson missing the last six weeks the duo lead the NFL with 2,215 yards on such throws.

Matt Leinart
Matt Leinart will take over as starting quarterback. Before finishing the Texans win in Tampa, Leinart hadn’t taken a snap since the end of the 2009 season.

Leinart is 7-10 as a starter in the NFL, with 11 of those starts coming in 2006 and just one since Week 5 of the 2007 season. In 30 career games, he has completed 57.1 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

He inherits an enviable position in Houston. The Texans, who have the third-ranked rushing offense in the NFL, have run the football 67 more times than any other team in the league. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only other team to call designed runs on more than half their snaps.

The running game will be tested without Schaub under center. The Texans could face more loaded boxes, but Foster and Ben Tate have proven capable at getting extra yards after contact. Houston leads the league in rush yards after contact this season.
Tim Tebow
For the first 54 minutes of the game it appeared that the doubters were right about Tim Tebow. He had completed only four of his 14 pass attempts for just 40 yards as the Denver Broncos were in danger of being shut out for the first time since the 1992 season.

However on a day that the Miami Dolphins honored the Tebow's 2008 Florida Gators National Championship team -- which needed a fourth quarter comeback to beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game to get to the BCS Championship Game -- Tebow led the Broncos on two late scoring drives, before they went on to win in Overtime.

Tebow has now led the Broncos to two fourth quarter comeback wins in his four career starts. Broncos Hall-of-Famer John Elway didn't orchestrate his second fourth quarter comeback until his 18th career start.

Tebow completed nine of his last 13 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns, his second career game with two touchdown passes. He also added 65 yards rushing, his third-most rushing yards in a game.

Of his 65 yards on Sunday, 53 yards came after contact. No quarterback in the NFL or Broncos ballcarrier has rushed for more yards after contact in a single game this season.

The Broncos struggled to convert third downs early on as the Dolphins stopped them on their first 10 third down attempts. However, Denver completed their final three third-downs of regulation, one of which resulted in a touchdown pass from Tebow.

Elsewhere around the NFL:

• The New York Jets outscored the San Diego Chargers 17-0 in the second half en route to a 27-21 come-from-behind win. It was the Jets first win when trailing by double-digit points at halftime since 2004, when they overcame an 11-point deficit against the San Francisco 49ers. Plaxico Burress tied his career-high with three touchdown receptions on Sunday, with all three coming in the red zone. Burress joins Jermichael Finley (Week 3 vs Bears) as the only players to have three red zone TD receptions in a game this season.

•  The Houston Texans scored 41 points, their most ever in a road game and defeated the Tennessee Titans to take over first place in the AFC South.

Arian Foster rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 119 yards and a TD. Foster's 78-yard receiving TD tied the longest offensive TD in team history (Corey Bradford 78-yds in 2003).

Foster is the fourth player since the merger to have 100 rush yds, 100 receiving yds and three total touchdowns in a game and first to do so since Brian Westbrook in 2007. Ben Tate rushed for 104 yards, making this the first game in Texans history with multiple 100-yard rushers.
A statistical look at tonight's matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans (ESPN, 8:30 ET).

Arian Foster has been very effective this season, no matter which direction he runs. When rushing right or left, he’s averaging more than 5 yards per attempt and has scored eight of his league-high 13 touchdowns.

His best bet is to stay outside Monday as DT Haloti Ngata and the Ravens have allowed only 3.6 yards per carry up the middle this season, the ninth-best mark in the NFL entering Week 14.

Another area where Foster has excelled: a league-high 11 of his 13 rushing touchdowns this season have come with eight or more defenders in the box.

When the Ravens have the ball, look for them to get their running backs involved early so that Joe Flacco can get going. Entering Week 14, Baltimore was seventh in the NFL in first-down rush attempts with 199. And even though they are in the middle of the pack in first-down rush yards, pounding the rock early sets up the Ravens' play-action passing game.

When Flacco has used play-action, he’s thrown 10 touchdowns and just one interception. Without a play-fake, Flacco has thrown nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Houston’s defense entered this week having allowed opponents to complete 69.9 percent of their play-action passes this season, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL.
The Houston Texans came into 2010 with high hopes as a trendy playoff pick and possessing one of the league’s most potent passing combinations with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson.

Arian Foster
But now the Texans sit at 5-7 and are two games out of the division lead with four games remaining. And they’re three games back of the Baltimore Ravens for the last Wild Card spot, with four 6-6 teams blocking their path to the playoffs.

But not to worry Texans fans, there is a bright spot and it comes from their rushing, not passing, offense.

Texans running back Arian Foster, who had just 257 rushing yards last season as a rookie, leads the NFL with 1,230 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns this season.

He’s just the second NFL player since 2004 to have at least 1,230 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground in a single season in either his freshman or sophomore season. The Tennessee TitansChris Johnson is the other player to do so.

If Foster finishes the season on his current pace, he’d have 1,640 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, just the ninth player since the NFL-AFL merger (since 1970) to hit those numbers in a season. He would join an impressive list that includes Emmitt Smith, Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson.

He’s also just 53 yards from breaking Steve Slaton’s team record for single-season rushing yards.

Hey, the Texans haven’t been around that long, but it’s still an accomplishment.

Not only has Foster been piling up the yards, he’s been the NFL’s most effective goal-line back this season. Ten of his 13 rushing touchdowns have come in goal-to-go situations, the most in the league, and he’s scored on nearly 35 percent of his goal-to-go runs.

But it’s not just about volume for Foster, he’s been efficiently getting the ball in the end zone on rushes inside the three-yard line.

Foster has scored on eight of 12 attempts from inside the three this season, tied for the second best success percentage in the NFL this season among backs with at least four rush attempts, trailing only Indianapolis Colts rookie Javarris James.

Monday night, Foster and the Texans will face the Baltimore Ravens (ESPN, 8:30 ET), who have allowed just five rushing touchdowns this season, tied for the third-fewest in the NFL.