The Philadelphia Eagles are on the road again this week to face the Houston Texans on Sunday. Philadelphia is 5-2 and coming off a close road loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Texans climbed back to .500 after beating the Titans last week to reach 4-4.
Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Brett Kollmann from Battle Red Blog this week. On Wednesday, we discussed which Texans player the Eagles would take and which Eagles player the Texans would take. Brett and I then exchanged five questions on Thursday: here's the BGN version and here's the BRB version.
Today, we're back with reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each own team's weaknesses, rather than just think of why each team is awesome.
So here's why the Texans will lose, via Brett. Check out Battle Red Blog to see why I think the Eagles will lose.
Philadelphia is relatively close to the middle of the pack in run defense at thirteenth (116.7 YPG/4.0 YPC), but that does not take into account that the Eagles have played the majority of this season so far without star linebacker Mychal Kendricks. With Kendricks back in the lineup against Arizona, the Eagles allowed just 71 yards rushing at a 3.1 clip. That's a pretty substantial difference that will likely have some impact on Arian Foster's success this weekend. Now, stopping Foster is easier said than done - especially with #23 playing out of his damn mind so far this year - but it is possible. If and when Philly squeezes the Houston run game just enough to force Ryan Fitzpatrick into compromising positions, it will create some massive problems for the Texans on offense.
To put it bluntly, Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a good quarterback. He's barely passable enough to get a few decent-ish wins against bad teams, but that's about it. The Eagles obviously are the furthest thing from a bad team, which means the more we can keep this game out of Fitzpatrick's hands the better. As a Texans fan, I'm just crossing my fingers on this one.
Before the season started, everyone expected the Eagles to be one of the most explosive offenses in the league. With Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce injured and Lane Johnson suspended, Philly simply did not have enough beef up front to facilitate that explosiveness for most of the season. Johnson has returned from suspension and played very well at right tackle, and Kelce is slated to return this week against Houston. Mathis is still out until at least week 10, and Todd Herremans is going to try to play through a torn bicep, but Kelce's return might be the most important addition to the active roster all season. With him in the lineup, LeSean McCoy's production should see a significant increase against a very beatable Texans run defense. I would not be surprised to see a vintage Shady stat line this weekend of 150+ total yards and at least one touchdown.
As for the secondary, Kareem Jackson is a very, very good cornerback, but I do not have much faith in Jonathan Joseph covering Jeremy Maclin consistently. Joseph is still good for a couple nice plays a game, but he is nowhere near as effective as he was when he first arrived in Houston in 2011. Maclin is too talented to not break off at least one big play with Joseph in coverage. It's going to happen... the only questions are when and how.