A pair of injury-plagued teams are set to meet Sunday in Houson.
Second-string quarterback Tom Savage and the 3-6 Houston Texans will face third-stringer Blaine Gabbert and the visiting 4-5 Arizona Cardinals in a game that will begin at 11 a.m. AZ time.
Can the Cardinals climb back to .500 following last Thursday's loss to the Seahawks? Here are a pair of predictions from the ABC15 sports team.
ABC15 sports anchor Jason Snavely
Blaine Gabbert vs. Tom Savage. If you haven’t clicked out of this article yet, it’s because you’re either a loyal Cardinals fan or Texans fan. Despite the subpar quarterback matchup, you’ll still be watching Sunday. Why? Because you’re a true fan. And guess what? Because the bar is set so low, we may be surprised with an early Christmas gift of an entertaining game.
I expect Gabbert to impress in his Cardinals debut. He’s not your typical third-string quarterback. He’s not a wide-eyed rookie who's about to get thrown into the fire before he’s ready. This third-string QB has 40 NFL starts under his belt. He’s also had all season to get familiar with Bruce Arians’ offense. Not to mention, he’s taking on a Texans defense that’s given up an average of 355 passing yards and 31 points per game in the last three weeks.
So, keep the bar set low when it comes to expectations for this game in hopes that we’ll all be pleasantly surprised with a competitive matchup Sunday in Houston.
Cardinals 17, Texans 13
ABC15.com sportswriter Shane Dale
The matchup to watch in this game is Cardinals All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson vs. Texans star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. It's a battle Peterson will likely win, because he's just very, very good at his job. Combine that with the likely absence of speedy receiver Will Fuller, and Houston QB Tom Savage will have few viable options Sunday.
On the other side, Blaine Gabbert faces an easy-looking test against a below-average Texans pass defense -- but this will be Gabbert's first start as a Cardinal, and I expect him to look rusty. (Not to mention the fact that he's a third-string QB for a reason.) Also, Houston has one of the NFL's best run defenses and has allowed a league-low three rushing touchdowns this season, which means Adrian Peterson might struggle for the second straight game.
The Cardinals have a distinct pattern this season: They've followed up every loss with a victory. If that pattern repeats, Arizona is due to win Sunday. But I think that streak ends in Houston, as Gabbert and the Cards are likely to make more mistakes on the road.