The Oakland Raiders head into Reliant Stadium on Sunday to take on the Houston Texans. On paper these two teams are incredibly similar, with just one win separating the Raiders’ 7th place AFC position and the Texans 6th place position.
A win over the Texans would go a long way in terms of tiebreakers for potential playoff seedings. A head to head win, along with a better conference record will be what differentiates two teams with a similar record. Finally, a win over the Texans would end a five game road trip for the Raiders with a 3-2 record. Raise your hand if you had the Raiders at 3-3 going into Week 8.
The Texans Offense
Deshaun Watson is not only the field general of the offense but he is the heartbeat of the Texans. Watson has 163 completions on 235 attempts for 1952 yards, 13 touchdowns with five interceptions and has been sacked 21 times. As a runner Watson has accumulated 196 yards on 35 rushes with five rushing touchdowns. When playing the Texans, especially Watson, as a defense you must handle the play called and the play Watson can create.
Watson is going to have to do a lot of creating on the move, his offensive line is banged up and while they have been better since acquiring Laremy Tunsil, they weren’t the greatest unit to begin with. Watson is going to be down wide receiver Will Fuller although Kenny Stills returns from he injury list.
DeAndre Hopkins has caught 49 of 68 targets for 508 yards and three touchdowns. He will be licking his chops envisioning lining up against a rookie making his first career start in Week 8. The Texans will undoubtedly do everything they can to isolate Hopkins against Trayvon Mullen.
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Running back Carlos Hyde is banged up, his back up Duke Johnson Jr. has been making the most of his opportunities. Johnson is averaging 6.2 yards per carry on 44 carries. Hyde is leading the team in rushing with 111 attempts gaining 461 yards and three touchdowns.
Under head coach Bill O’Brien the Texans run the ball in a zone heavy style as well as out of the gun. Through seven games this 2019 season the Texans are scoring an average of 26.4 points per game (9th in the NFL). Ranked 4th in total yardage with 396 yards per game, the run has been solid to the tune of 134.1 yards per game (ranked 8th).
Texans Defensive Threats
Raiders must neutralize #59 Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus, has been merciless (pun intended) against the opposition. He has the second most sacks in the conference with 5.5, four forced fumbles, one Interception, one fumble recovery and 10 tackles for loss. Whatever it is that the Raiders do on offense, they must account for and devise a plan to deal with #59.
DJ Reader #92 the nose tackle is a good one, at 6’3″ 347 pounds center Rodney Hudson is going to have his hands full with this one. Reader has 24 tackles 2.5 sacks and two run stuffs. Deceptively quick and incredibly explosive for a man his size, Reader at the point of attack requires Hudson’s full attention.
Justin Reid #20, the strong safety will draw the task of being the man to guard Darren Waller. Reid is coming off the injury report and has been playing good ball as of late. He’s been piling up the tackles and playing a lot of snaps inside the box.
The passing of the Hall of Famer Willie Brown
A few days ago, on October 23, 2019 Willie Brown passed away. The longtime assistant coach, and Hall of Fame player who meant more to this organization than words can do justice. His passing only adds to the Raiders eternal flame. One of owner Mark Davis’s best friends, Brown was the original #24. A mentor and a teacher, Brown has taught many players how to become the legends they are today.
Once a Raider always a Raider, Brown will be gone but never forgotten. RIP Willie Brown, heaven just got one helluva player.