Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 8:
Blitz pick up: If RB Joseph Addai (shoulder) is out for the Colts against the Texans, Indy loses a big piece of its pass protection. Addai is superb at pickups. Donald Brown, also hurt, is not nearly as good. And Mike Hart and Javarris James have not played enough for us to know. It might be a spot for Houston to try to attack, but can the Texans afford to blitz much considering their coverage issues and Peyton Manning’s tendency to find the open guy?
Yes, they’re the Chargers: The Titans spent the week saying how this Chargers team is not the same one they have lost seven straight to, including a 42-17 pounding in a game the Titans needed to stay in playoff contention on Christmas last season. But they are enough of the same team, and San Diego absolutely has Tennessee’s number. The talented Chargers have lost three in a row, seem overdue and match up well.
Filling multiple roles: The absence of Pat McAfee, the punter who’s suspended for the game, goes beyond him being replaced for a game by Jeremy Kapinos. McAfee is also the kickoff man, and Adam Vinatieri won’t hit them as deep. McAfee is the holder too, so Kapinos or Jacob Tamme or Curtis Painter will replace him there. One bad play by a replacement can really shine the spotlight on his absence, and the alleged drunken canal swim that created the suspension scenario.
Talent gap: The Cowboys are largely regarded as a collection of talented players that has been unable to play well together as a team and thus find themselves at 1-5. They certainly view themselves as more talented than the rebuilding Jaguars, who are struggling but have a 3-4 record that the Cowboys would love to call their own. If Aaron Kampman and the young defensive linemen he’s working with can rattle Jon Kitna, Dallas could sink even further.
Concentrating on their jobs: When Arian Foster ran wild against the Colts on opening weekend, Indianapolis defenders got caught out of their lanes. There was a good deal of over-pursuit and a general lack of discipline. Both teams are coming off a bye. The Colts surely spent time discussing those problems and working on them. The Colts' defense has the people to play much better than it has so far. I suspect the Texans will have to balance things out offensively this time around, something Matt Schaub is fully capable of helping them do.