The San Diego Chargers will bolt into NRG Stadium after a bye week looking to keep any slim playoff chances alive with a win over your Houston Texans. So, there's little question that the Texans have their hands full with Philip Rivers and the Chargers.
Here are my Keys to the Game...
Stay in rhythm with the passing game: Against Oakland, the passing game was as efficient as it's been all year. The Chargers secondary is banged up and the Texans can capitalize by spreading the wealth again.
Where's Wal...I mean, DeAndre? DeAndre Hopkins made plays throughout the night against the Raiders from a number of different spots on the field. He can win inside and outside and that ability continues to open things up for the tight ends and young receivers.
Who's next behind Lamar Miller? Will it be more of Akeem Hunt or can Jonathan Grimes get some of that action as well? Someone, anyone, has to take the pressure off of Lamar Miller late in the season.
Hats on speed: The Chargers linebackers, when fully healthy, can fly. Inside linebacker Denzel Perryman is a thumper and he can run. He doesn't take a ton of chances and plays the position properly. It's imperative that the Texans offensive line get a hat on him, all game long.
Don't let Bosa and Ingram wreck the game: Man, the AFC West has some outstanding edge players. Kansas City has Dee Ford, Tamba Hali and now Justin Houston is back. Denver has Von (Miller) and Demarcus (Ware). Oakland has Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. The Texans have slowed each of those guys, for the most part, minus Houston who didn't play in the game in September. Bosa and Ingram aren't as quick and speedy off the edge, but they're strong and powerful. It'll be a stern, and different test, but the key is the same - don't let them wreck the game.
Fatigue can't be a factor: The trip to Mexico City was an exhausting one, but it can't defeat the Texans twice, especially on this side of the ball where it seems like it's finally rounding into the balanced shape Coach Bill O'Brien and offensive coordinator George Godsey have wanted all along.
Bait and Switch: The Dolphins showed the Chargers a few different disguises in that game and it paid off with four interceptions. Disguises are key in any defense and the Texans can do it well.
Gap responsibility: The Texans have limited running attacks the past three games by solid play at the point of attack. The front seven and secondary have gotten to the right gap, played off blocks well and tackled as a group well. Charger running back Melvin Gordon's presence demands that of this team again.
Sacks aren't just for the grocery store: There's little question that the Texans have been disruptive in the passing game, but it's time to get Philip Rivers on the ground. A few times.
Tight ends and running backs in the passing game: The Raiders were able to find success throwing to running backs and tight ends, way more than throwing to their outstanding wide receivers. That said, the underneath defenders must limit Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry and Melvin Gordon in the passing game.
Just because you don't know his name...: Tyrell Williams isn't a household name but he's become one of Philip Rivers security blankets. He's 6-4 and 205 pounds, so he's big with speed and can be a difficult cover for inside or outside cover people.
DON'T TURN IT OVER - That one's easy.
Crank it up on Sunday, fans. NRG Stadium needs to get the juice flowing and make life awfully difficult for the Chargers in a key intraconference battle at high noon.
Check out some of the best shots from Wednesday's practice as the Texans prepare for the Chargers on Sunday.