1. Eliminate turnovers, play clean football
Sounds simple, right? Matt Schaub has his biggest test in improving his turnover margin. Seattle's defense had five turnovers last week against San Francisco. The Seahawks currently lead the league in holding opposing quarterbacks to an average passer rating of just 49.2.
The Texans made changes in practice this week, adding in more 11-on-11 drills to better simulate the Seahawks defense.
"Normally, you're going to get a ball tipped or something's going to happen on an interception and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it, but the decision-making process you can do something about," head coach Gary Kubiak said Friday. "So that's something he's (Matt Schaub's) got to improve upon. The one thing about a quarterback, you can be doing it all right for 30 times and do it wrong one time, and make a really poor decision, and it really hurts your football team. It's just consistency all day long."
2. Force turnovers
Seattle has a 6 turnover differential, tied for the second highest in the NFL. Houston is -3, having four interceptions and recovering just one when Cushing earned his first-pick six against San Diego.
This week the defense practice worked on increasing their opportunities for more turnovers. The winner of the turnover battle is usually the winner of the game, according to Ed Reed.
"You have study tape," Reed. "You have to study tape. You have to know the game plan. Know exactly what the coaches are asking form you in order to put yourself into position. Just running to the football. Half the time when you're running to the football you tend to make more plays giving that extra effort."
- 3. Contain Russell Wilson*
Wilson, who boasts the highest passer rating since Week 9 of 2012 (117.3), has thrown for 664 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions in his first three games.
"He's quick," J.J. Watt said. "He's very quick. He's a smart guy. He's a very good quarterback and he can run. You can't let him outside. You can't let him scramble all over on you. You just have to make sure you do your best to keep him contained."
Wilson's mobility will keep the defensive front busy.
"What you have to worry about is not being over-aggressive, but also being under-aggressive against a guy like that because you now you are holding back, worrying about him running with it all the time," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. "(If) you don't get any rush on him and he can hurt you by throwing the ball. It's a double-edged sword."
- 4. Play clean against the Seattle secondary*
With a secondary that boasts of two All-Pro players and three Pro Bowlers, Seattle leads the league in allowing just one touchdown pass this season.
"All of them are big, (Brandon) Browner, (Richard) Sherman," Andre Johnson said. "The smallest guy is Earl Thomas. But they're a very good group. I think their front and back end work very well together. I think that's why they're very successful at what they do. As far as the corner backs, very big, long guys, good foot speed. They're very aggressive. Normally when you go against big, long guys like that, they don't have to be close to you just to touch you. It kind of throws you off a little bit with timing and stuff like that, but, at the same time, you've seen that guys are able to make plays on them and stuff like that. It'll be a challenge. It'll be a big challenge for us and we're looking forward to it."
- 5. Rev up the running game*
The Texans have rushed for 386 yards this season, picking up 4.9 yards per carry. Perhaps seeing more of the running game will be the key to the offense's success.
"The best thing we can do is run the ball, stay on schedule," Kubiak said. "That's the best thing we can do and not get down two scores, like we did in Baltimore."
"I think when you're going against a defense like this, you've got to wear them down and you've just got to be physical," Arian Foster said. "They like to establish their physicality on teams. They like to intimidate people with their physical nature. I think this is going to be one of those dog fights where we've got to let them know we're in here too."