Texans QB Matt Schaub, if you'll remember, was a third-round selection of the Falcons all the way back in 2004. He rode the bench for three years, but in limited action had actually looked quite impressive, most notably his three-TD performance against the Patriots in 2005.
Then in an attempt to give then-starter Michael Vick full confidence that the organization was committed to him 100%, Schaub was traded to the Texans for a pair of second-rounders prior to the 2007 season. Poor timing, to say the least. Schaub then went on to pass for 300 yards and a TD in a surprising Falcons win that very season. This time, however, he'll be playing a Falcons team with some serious talent.
Record: Finished 6-10, missed playoffs
Last Meeting: Sept 30, 2007 (Falcons won 26-16)
Notable Additions: CB Jonathan Joseph, S Danieal Manning, FB Lawrence Vickers, P Brad Maynard
Notable Losses: FB Vonta Leach, S Bernard Pollard, LB Zac Diles, P Matt Turk
The Texans have been the trendy sleeper pick for the past few years now, and each year they have failed to deliver. Last season was no exception. After losing Dunta Robinson to an infinitely more awesome team, Houston struggled mightily in pass coverage of any sort.
Still, they remain a team with a ton of talent. Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones and Owen Daniels all make up an offense that could definitely keep pace with the Falcons. The big question, as always, is how their defense will hold up. Shiny new cornerback Jonathan Joseph is a huge upgrade in the secondary. However, whether the team can thrive in its new 3-4 scheme remains to be seen.
My guess is that this one will be a shootout of epic proportions. The difference will come down to Atlanta's ability to keep a currently hobbled Arian Foster hemmed in, forcing the Texans to become one-dimensional on offense. The linebackers will have to really watch out for Owen Daniels, as well.
The Texans will be better in 2011, of that I have no doubt. But the Falcons are still a couple notches ahead of Houston at the moment, and should be able to come away with a win in Reliant Stadium.