The 8-3 Houston Texans, playing a third-string rookie next to an elite defense and rushing attack, will be a test case for the idea that the quarterback is the most important player on the field. They are +2.5 home underdogs to the 7-4 Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
UNC rookie T.J. Yates performed decently when pressed into action in the second half of the Texans 20-13 victory over Jacksonville last week, completing 8/15 passes for 70 yards while managing a lead.
And while the team just signed NFL retread Jake Delhomme to a back-up position, they will likely depend on Yates for as long as the 6'4 220 QB can hold on to the job.
With Houston depending on Arian Foster and Ben Tate in the ground game, it will be a match-up of strength on strength Sunday. The Falcons defense has been much stronger against the run, where they are 2nd best in the NFL, than the pass, where they ranked 23rd.
The Texans defense will need to keep the game close against an inconsistent Atlanta offense that is replete with playmakers (WR's Roddy White and Julio Jones, TE Tony Gonzalez and RB Michael Turner) but isn't ranked in the top ten through the air or the ground.
Expecting a defensive struggle, the odds makers have set the over/under for Sunday's game at 41.