1. Arian Foster
With rain and win expected to be a factor Sunday night at Soldier Field, Foster’s importance is as great as ever. The Texans need to be able to run the ball and control the clock against this physical Bears defense. And with Ben Tate out, the Texans will have to rely on Foster to be the main man with 25+ carries.
Foster has shown the ability to rise to the occasion before. He was a force in Baltimore in last year’s playoffs even though the Ravens were stacking the line and daring T.J. Yates to throw the ball. Brian Urlacher and the Monsters of the Midway will be determined to stop the run Sunday, and Foster’s ability to move the ball through the teeth of eight- and nine-man fronts will go a long way to determine who wins this game.
2. Matt Schaub
Big time players show up for big time games. This is Schaub’s opportunity to show the rest of the football world that he’s able to beat the biggest teams on the big stage, even in adverse conditions on the road.
If the weather is as bad as expected, ball security will be crucial. The Bears are the best in the league at forcing turnovers, maybe one of the best in NFL history. Plus, they get after opposing quarterbacks as well as any team in the league. Schaub will be hit, but he can’t afford to fumble or throw interceptions if the Texans are going to come back from Chicago with a win.
3. Johnathan Joseph
Joseph appears to be over the strained groin that made him actually look human against the Jets and Packers. He’ll be put to the test Sunday against Jay Cutler’s favorite target, Brandon Marshall.
Marshall is bigger, more physical and even faster than Andre Johnson. And Cutler loves throwing the ball in his direction, as many as 20 times a game sometimes. Whether Joseph can win this one-on-battle will directly affect the outcome of this potential Super Bowl preview.
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