SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 09: Mason Foster #59 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates after he recovered a fumble during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Here are my three key matchups for the Bucs defense on Sunday.
Mason Foster vs Arian Foster
Foster v Foster. This will be a key matchup both in run defense and in the passing game. Against the Saints, Mason Foster chased after Darren Sproles on passes while he couldn't stop much in the run game. If the Bucs want to stop the Texans offense, that has to change. Foster has to get off of blocks and stop Foster, while he can't afford to let him run wild on receptions.
The alternative, of course, is to go to mostly zone coverage - but that would turn this matchup to Mason Foster vs Owen Daniels. I'm not sure which is better for the Bucs.
Brian Price vs Houston offensive line
The key to stopping the Texans running game is to get penetration. The best player to do that on the Bucs defense may be Brian Price, who was drafted as a penetrating defensive tackle to disrupt the pass and run game. Price has been slowed by injuries in his career so far, but has shown flashes of his disruptive ability.
If the Bucs want to stop the Texans' run game, they need more than flashes. They need consistent disruption out of Brian Price and even Albert Haynesworth.
Tanard Jackson vs Rushing offense
While Tanard Jackson has been a boon to the Bucs' pass defense, he has looked bad in run defense. He has consistently missed tackles and hasn't looked sharp filling holes in the run game.