5 Things to Watch: Texans vs. Eagles

1. Communication is key: The Eagles come to town with a fast-paced offense that ranks fifth in the NFL in yards per game with 398.7. According to safety D.J. Swearinger, it will be "very critical" for the Texans' defense to be clear and quick in communicating playcalls on the field.

"After every play there is no lollygagging or celebrating," Swearinger said. "After every play get lined up and get your eyes to the sideline, or get your eyes on your mike linebacker or whatever you've got to do to get the next play."

Texans receiver Damaris Johnson, who played for the Eagles in 2012 and 2013, echoed what Swearinger said about the importance of being on the same page against such a potent offense.

"You've got to communicate," Johnson said. "Just first get lined up. Don't try to worry about what they're doing as much. You've got to focus on yourself first then you go ahead and get adjusted to what they're doing."

2. Turnover advantage: The Texans are tremendous at getting takeaways. They're second in the NFL with 17 through the first eight games of 2014.

Interestingly enough, the Eagles are the second-worst in the NFL at turning the ball over, with 17 of their own. They've created 10 turnovers, while the Texans have given the ball away 13 times.

For defensive end J.J. Watt, the benefits of forcing turnovers are simple.

"We've been doing a good job of that," Watt said. "We need to continue to do a good job of that because that leads to points."

Kelly is frustrated by how much his Eagles have coughed up the ball.

"We haven't done a good job, especially in the games we've lost in terms of turning the football over," Kelly said. "That is a huge metric in this league. If you're not on the plus side of the turnover category, you're hampering your chances to win. Our players are fully aware of that, understand that and understand what a good takeaway team Houston it."

3. Continued success from Foster: Arian Foster was brilliant in the month of October. He gained at least 100 yards on the ground in all four games last month, and averaged 6.25 yards per carry.  He averaged 129.8 yards per game, and rumbled for six touchdowns in the month. This season, he has an AFC-best 766 rushing yards, and he picked up two-thirds of that total in the last month.

Grinding out the clock and helping keep the Eagle offense off the field will hinge in large part on Foster continuing the success he's had recently. Philadelphia inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who still holds the Texans' franchise record for career tackles, knows Foster and the offensive line are clicking.

"They're back to running the ball really well," Ryans said. "Arian is really setting the tempo for them. He looks like he's healthy again and he's doing a good job of running the stretch play, which he's been built for and he's done it for a while in this league."

Another former Texan defender, in outside linebacker Connor Barwin, agreed.

"Obviously Arian is in the zone right now," Barwin said. "We have our hands full with trying to stop him."

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  1. Be special**: Randy Bullock has kicked off 41 times this season, and 20 of those have resulted in a touchback. When the opposing team has chosen to return a kick, they're getting 24 yards. Bullock needs to continue to do what he's done so far this year, and for O'Brien, the Texans must excel against Parkey and the Eagles.

"I think one of the bigger matchups in this game is special teams," O'Brien said. "Philadelphia has the number one unit and the number one kickoff return unit in the NFL. They've returned punts and kickoffs for touchdowns. That's a huge matchup in the game. We have to do a good job of getting down there and tackling those guys and making sure that we don't give up those big plays."

5. Return of the 7: Ryans, Barwin and five other former Texans are making their first trip back to NRG Stadium. Punter Donnie Jones, tight end James Casey, linebacker Bryan Braman, receiver Jeff

Maehl and offensive lineman Andrew Gardner all spent time in Houston. Barwin was a second round draft pick in 2009, and left in free agency in the winter of 2013. He knows the Eagles must be prepared for a feverish atmosphere when gametime rolls around at noon.

"I've told our guys that it was loud at Arizona where we played last week, but it will be louder in Houston," Barwin said. "The fans are great there. They keep the roof shut now. It makes it louder. So yeah, I told them that it's going to be loud. Obviously that's a huge advantage playing at home for them and it's something that we'll have to overcome."

For Ryans, who was traded to Philadelphia in 2012, the return will be unique. The former team captain in Houston is now a team captain for the Eagles, and he's leading them in tackles.

"It's going to be special going back to where I started playing," Ryans said. "I played there six years. A lot of great friends; it was just great players, great fans there. I'm excited to come back."

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