Houston Texans, Matt Schaub Favored Over Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals In First Pre-Season Game By NFL Sportsbooks

August 13, 2010- By Jonathan Lowell

Both the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans have something to prove ahead of the 2010 NFL season. The two will meet Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET in University Of Phoenix Stadium in the first pre-season game for both franchises.

The Texans have never made the playoffs in their eight-year history, and fans believe it’s time to make an appearance. Houston turned in the first winning season in franchise history going 9-7, but posting an embarrassing 1-5 in the AFC South. The passing game finished first in the league last season, but their offense was basically one-dimensional.

Arizona comes in still hurting from their playoff loss to the eventual champion New Orleans Saints a year ago. Their leader from last season, Kurt Warner, has departed and the team will look to field a new quarterback in 2010. New Faces on defense hope to win the team a third-straight division title, and advancement past the divisional round in the playoffs. The team finished with a 10-6 record, and a winning NFC West record at 4-2.

Bodog sportsbook has set the Cardinals as home underdogs at +1 1/2 points, and the over/under for total points scored at 32 1/2. Pre-season Super Bowl XLV odds are slightly more favorable for the Texans at +3000, while the Cardinals suffered a decrease in odds at +4000.

Matt Leinart is on the hot seat this season, as he is expected be the uncontested starter according to the 2010 Arizona Cardinals season preview. He was supposed to take on the starting job years ago after being selected as the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft. Injury and inconsistent performance hindered his ability to start, and he has backed up Warner since. He lost a big target in Anquan Boldin, but still has Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston to throw to. Beanie Wells will try to become the opening day starter in camp over third-down option Tim Hightower. The Texans’ linebackers will be ready for them, and return an impressive corps. Brian Cushing, who won the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year award, will have to sit out the first four games due to testing positive for a performance enhancer. Zac Diles and DeMeco Ryans will stop opposing running attacks in the meantime. Mario Williams has evolved into a premier NFL pass rusher, and Jackson Kareem is expected to make an impact immediately after being drafted out of Alabama.

Houston running back Steve Slaton has a lot to prove coming into the 2010 season, as his statistics plummeted from his rookie year. He averaged 4.8 yards as a rookie compared to 3.3 last season before going down with a shoulder injury late in the season. The rushing attack finished 30th in the league last season, but Matt Schaub did his best to keep the offense afloat. His 4,770 yards and 29 touchdowns helped the Texans finish first in the league in passing. The 2010 Houston Texans season preview has Andre Johnson as the No. 1 receiver ahead of the season. Johnson was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl last season, and will look to continue his dominance over opposing secondaries. The Arizona defense suffered the loss of safety Antrel Rolle, linebacker Karlos Dansby, and cornerback Bryant McFadden. They added Joey Porter from the Miami Dolphins to replace Dansby. A few players were added to the secondary, but will look to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to be a leader along with Adrian Wilson. Darnelle Dockett will continue to disrupt offenses up front.

The Texans got Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers from Arizona via free agency in the offseason. He will try to win the starting job over Kris Brown, who has started every game for the Texans since their inaugural season. Veteran Jay Feely is expected to replace Rackers in Arizona. Breaston should handle the kicks for the Cardinals, while Trindon Holliday will make his debut for the Texans out of Louisiana State University.

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