Nov 21, 2016; Mexico City, MEX; Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) passes against the Oakland Raiders at Estadio Azteca. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
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Texans vs. Chargers – Disrespected again, for the second time in three games the Texans are underdogs to a Division cellar dweller. The Chargers are favored by 1 1/2. The number is 46.5.
It’s true that the Chargers play in arguably the NFL’s toughest division and are probably the best last place team in the NFL. But isn’t that like being the best looking guy at an Ugliest Man contest?
After all, the Texans are playing at home where they are undefeated and Brock Osweiler played pretty well in Mexico City. Wasn’t the Raider game an indication he is beginning to put it all together? Shouldn’t he be even better in the friendly confines of NRG stadium?
Well, not so fast my friends. It’s true that Osweiler’s stat line looked better against Oakland. What the stats don’t tell you is he hit two Raider defenders right between the numbers and both dropped the ball. Put two additional interceptions on his stat line and the wolves are howling.
Another issue. Kansas City showed the formula for eliminating the Texans deep threat and New England refined it. Every Houston opponent since then has employed some version of two deep safeties, and the Texans’ deep threat is non-existent.
Now a pattern is developing for beating the Texans’ defense. Empty backfield, four wideouts, a receiver/running back isolated on a linebacker and it’s off to the races. That formula is right in Philip Rivers’ sweet spot.
Both at pre-season and mid-season I picked the Texans to win this game. But now, with the injury to John Simon, the Texans’ linebacker situation is perilous. If and when the Chargers spread the field the Texans have a problem as they demonstrated after Simon went out last week. Reluctantly and with little confidence I’ve switched my pick.
Aug 1, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel walks onto the practice field during Houston Texans training camp at Methodist Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t take a knife to a gunfight.
Unfortunately, the Texans’ passing game is the figurative knife. The Texans are running the ball well, but the Chargers are fifth against the run and playing even better now that Joey Bosa worked his way into the line-up. This game boils down to whether the Texans’ anemic passing game can exploit the Chargers almost as bad pass defense. I expect that Osweiler and his receivers will be better, but not good enough to outscore the Chargers.
On the other side of the ball Romeo Crennel must devise a scheme to contain the pro version of a spread offense. His problem is that if he over-compensates to stop the pass the Chargers have Melvin Gordon ready to gouge the defense. Pick your poison. I don’t think the Texans have an antidote for both. They can die quickly or slowly, but the final result is the same.