Texans Corner: Overview and predictions
If there was anything front and center in regard to the Houston Texans on Sunday, it was whether Brock Osweiler would be able to perform to expectations and what would happen to the Texans with the absence of defensive phenom and team captain JJ Watt. Luckily for the Texans, they answered with a, “We will be just fine,” as they defeated the Tennessee Titans 27-20 and took the lead in the AFC South.
God bless the special teams
Sunday’s game started fast with the offense and stayed strong with the defense, but if you’re looking for who sealed the deal in the Texans’ win against the Titans, you have to give credit where credit is due – the special teams. Let’s start with Will Fuller – a 67-yard punt return for the rookie receiver in the third quarter on his first fielded punt in the NFL. Then, in the first quarter, he caught a pass from Brock Osweiler and put it in the endzone. In that game alone, Fuller became the first Texans player to ever get a receiving touchdown and a punt-return touchdown in the same game.
JJ Watt is confirmed out for the rest of the season, undergoing back surgery this week. In this game, the defense had to show what they would be able to do without Watt on their line. Well, what did they do? The controlled Marcus Mariota, Tennessee’s first draft pick quarterback from last season. By making Mariota ineffective, they were also able to stamp out running back Demarco Murray’s ability to get a rhythm in this game, something he has been successful at since leaving the Eagles this season. Even with Mariota being well-controlled, Murray showed the skill in this game that made him the NFL Rushing Champion two years ago when he was in Dallas. He carried 25 times for 95 yards and scored twice. His first touchdown, from two yards out, capped a five-play, 78-yard drive.
As much as it would be wonderful to say that Osweiler has been able to overcome the challenges he has had this season, that would simply be untrue. Although he was able to connect and get touchdowns into the endzone, he has worsened his pick record by two – now having a total of six picks this season. When asked what the cause of his interceptions was, Osweiler blamed “poor decision making.” Where the Texans were able to win this game despite the interceptions, as the season continues, they will be looking for Osweiler to show some of the promise they saw in him in Denver. They also need to get over whatever crutch is causing him to turn over the ball in the state he is currently doing.
The Texans go on the road to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. In this matchup, you’ll find two teams fighting to stay on top of their division with styles that are as similar to each other as they are different. Like the Titans, the Vikings hit the dirt with an acquisition who played for the Eagles last season. After Teddy Bridgewater received an injury that took him out for the rest of the season, Bradford has been able to fill that hole. With minor struggles as he attempts to learn the Vikings offense under Norv Turner, Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford are in eerily similar situations.
They both have two powerhouse players out of commission – the Texans with JJ Watt and the Vikings with Adrian Peterson. Both teams have top-ranked defenses that will give their opposing offenses a run for their money on the field. Where there is a vast difference between Minnesota and Houston is in turnovers. They are evenly matched in other categories, but if Brock Osweiler continues to have the turnover problems that he has had this season, it could be a long game for the Texans on the road.
One thing that plays in Houston’s favor, however, is that they will have plenty of film to prepare for Sam Bradford. Even though Brock Osweiler had decent amounts of playing time last season, he was not the starter. Bradford, however, was the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, and film from his games in the City of Brotherly Love will give the Texans the ability to come up with a defensive strategy that will be able to shut Bradford down. Both teams are looking to lead their divisions. Even with their similarities, this game will prove to everyone who is really up for the challenge.