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5 Things to Watch: Texans at Cardinals

Posted Nov 8, 2013

Drew Dougherty detailed the five key storylines to follow when the Texans travel to Arizona for their contest against the Cardinals.

*Here are five things to watch when the Texans face the Cardinals in Week 10 at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

1. Bullock accuracy- Kicker Randy Bullock has struggled mightily in 2013, and needs to connect on his field goal attempts. He's currently 13-of-21 on the season, with three of those eight misses coming last Sunday night in the loss to the Colts. Prior to Week 9, he'd made 11 of his previous 12 attempts. He knows that he has to come through when called upon, and also said his teammates have been supportive.

“I had a lot of guys come by and tell me to keep my head up," Bullock said. "They have confidence in me. It was a bad outing, but I can put it behind me and move forward.”

He hasn't made any of his four tries from 50 yards or more. 48.5 percent of his kickoffs have been touchbacks.

With the Cardinals' offense averaging 20 points per game, there's a good chance Bullock could be needed to deliver in a tight, low-scoring game.

2. Fitzgerald vs. Joseph- This game will feature two of the greatest wideouts in NFL history, in Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. The matchup between the former and Texans' cornerback Johnathan Joseph will be something to keep an eye on, as Fitzgerald leads Arizona with five touchdown catches and 36 receptions for 470 yards. Joseph attributed much of Fitzgerald's success to his preparedness.

"He trains himself to be in tough situations, in tough games," Joseph said. "He trains himself to be able to go all day."

From 2007 to 2011, Fitzgerald tallied over 1,000 receiving yards per season. But he's been hampered by quarterback play in 2012 and this year.

Fitzgerald's been targeted 64 times, but he only has 36 receptions. The Cardinals' Week 6 loss at San Francisco is the only game in which he's had over 100 yards receiving. Still, Joseph recognizes the threat Fitzgerald poses to the Texans.

"He goes up and makes the tough catches," Joseph said. "He runs good routes. He blocks. He does everything the right way. He's the ultimate pro."

3. Andre Johnson vs. Patrick Peterson- As Fitzgerald has struggled the last two seasons, Johnson has flourished. He's followed up a 2012 in which he notched 1,598 receiving yards, with a 2013 that's seen him amass 813 yards in eight games.

Further, Johnson has caught a pass from three different Texans quarterbacks in 2013. He got in the end zone three times against the Colts last Sunday in a 229-yard outburst.

Peterson, meanwhile, was a Pro Bowl cornerback in each of his first two seasons in the NFL. He's snared a trio of interceptions this season, and will likely match up against Johnson.

4. Palmer Under Pressure- It's a telling stat with regards to Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer: when he's been sacked a lot, his team loses.

23 times Palmer's been dropped. In the four losses, he's been sacked 16 times.  When he's been kept upright for the most part, the Cardinals have been victorious.

J.J. Watt leads the Texans with 5.5 sacks in 2013, while fellow defensive end Antonio Smith outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus have 4.5 apiece.

Clearly, getting to Palmer is a key, but getting turnovers may be even more paramount to the Texans' success.

"Like I’ve said too many times, we need to get takeaways," Watt said. "We need to continue to do that.”

5. Can Case Continue?- The first two games with Case Keenum under center have seen the Texans lose, but the second-year quarterback show some flashes of brilliance.

He's thrown four touchdowns and hasn't been picked off, and now has 11 pasess that have been for 25 yards or more.

“It’s a great thing that we have guys that can go down and make plays," Keenum said. "I think we’ve had some great opportunities and they’ve kind of presented themselves in different situations as far as what coverages they’re playing and we can attack certain areas."

Twitter.com/DoughertyDrew

Content on HoustonTexans.com does not necessarily represent the views of the Houston Texans front office staff, coaches or executives.

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