Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Texans game.
Texans RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate vs. Browns' run defense
The Browns surrendered a season-high 174 rushing yards in their 20-10 loss Week Eight at San Francisco. Overall, the 49ers attempted 39 rushes and gained 4.5 yards per attempt.
Cleveland did hold up relatively well vs. the run at times, never more than when San Francisco was turned away on three consecutive rushes within two yards or closer from the Browns' goal line in the second quarter. However, the Browns surrendered three rushes of 20 yards or longer vs. San Francisco — a 26-yarder to Kendall Hunter and rushes of 26 and 24 yards to Frank Gore. All came in the first half, and all were off the 49ers' left side. Moreover, Gore's 24-yard rush and Hunter's 26-yard carry came on back-to-back plays in the first quarter.
On Gore's 24-yard sprint, the Browns had the 49ers backed up at their two-yard line. Nine Cleveland defenders were in close proximity to the line of scrimmage. Gore took a handoff and started left. When Browns safeties Mike Adams and T.J. Ward were blocked out of the play, Gore had a clear path down the sideline. On Hunter's 26-yard run, missed tackles were an issue, while on Gore's 26-yard run, Ward, again playing near the line, couldn't make the tackle on the Niners' star running back, and Gore was able to get outside. ORG Adam Snyder did get a block on Ward on the play, but Ward had a shot at a diving tackle at Gore and just missed.
The Browns' run defense must be sound against Foster (135-532-4) and Tate (97-508-1). Foster is simply one of the NFL's most talented running backs. His vision, cutting ability and elusiveness are assets, and he has good speed, too. Tate is strong, and his speed, coupled with his physicality, can make him tough to bring down if he gets to the second level.
The Texans employ a zone-stretch running scheme. Mistakes against that lead to clear lanes for Foster or Tate and could be very costly.