The Philadelphia Eagles (7-7) and Houston Texans (10-4) are set to play on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. In order to preview this Week 16 matchup, I reached out to our associates over at Battle Red Blog. The brilliant Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollman) took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let’s take a look at his answers.
1 - Brett, you had a great film breakdown on Carson Wentz last year. Can you explain to the people who’ve seemingly soured on Wentz why he’s truly the Eagles’ long-term franchise QB?
Wentz is still the guy in my opinion. Obviously the spectacular “how did he do that?” type plays haven’t been coming with as much regularity this year as they did last year, but I still see the same natural talent in him. He still has the size, the arm, and the mobility, and he is still capable of making some throws that very few other quarterbacks would even attempt. It’s not like all of those gifts suddenly left him this year.
Has his decision making been a bit shakier this year? Sure.
Has his ball placement been less consistent? Yes, of course.
Would I still take him over Jared Goff 10 times out of 10 and bet on him returning to form in the long term? Absolutely. You don’t give up on a supremely talented young quarterback just because his play dips for one season while he and the whole team around him deal with devastating injury issues. You just flat out don’t.
2 - All season, I’ve kind of felt like the Texans aren’t quite as good as their record indicates. I don’t think they’re bad by any means. But I look at a lot of the close wins on their schedule, combined with the fact that Houston ranks 14th in DVOA, and can’t help but wonder if the Texans are just merely solid instead of truly elite. To what extent is that a fair assessment?
It’s definitely a fair assessment. Houston is basically “that team that just won’t die” in 2018. They are constantly up against the ropes, constantly playing in close games, and constantly seen as the underdogs...and rightfully so. But in the end, when the team really needs special plays the most, their stars almost always step up big to deliver a win. Hell, if anything I think Eagles fans would be more familiar with that kind of team than most other fanbases, considering that describes last year’s Eagles pretty well.
The Texans always play better when their backs are against the wall this season. That tendency makes for a very stressful experience for the fans of course, but I genuinely feel like our players ENJOY pulling these wins out of their asses at the last minute. It’s like beating a video game on hard mode for them, or something.
3 - How concerned are Texans fans about the Eagles after watching them win beat the Rams?
As long as Fletcher Cox and Zach Ertz draw breath, I will always be concerned about the Eagles. Both of those players are true game wreckers that unfortunately attack our biggest weaknesses on both sides of the ball (pass protection and covering tight ends with linebackers), so if we cannot contain either one of them -- spoiler alert: we probably won’t -- then this game will probably be unbearably difficult.
4 - If you had to game plan against the Texans’ defense, how would you attack them?
Pick any DB other than Kareem Jackson and Justin Reid, and throw it at them. Odds are you’ll get a first down out of it. That’s basically it.
5 - If you had to game plan against the Texans’ offense, how would you try to stop them?
Deshaun has been struggling with pressure coming off the edges lately from corner and safety blitzes. I am still not entirely sure if he is struggling to identify those blitzes pre-snap, or if he is just way too confident in his ability to avoid that pressure so he’s holding the ball too long, but those DB pressure packages have absolutely wrecked him on third downs over the last month or so of the season. If Jim Schwartz sees any opportunities to send a nickel corner on a blitz off the edge from a receiver in a tight split, he should do it. That’s probably his best bet to disrupt Watson and keep him from buying enough time to throw bombs to Hopkins down the field.
6 - What’s your prediction for Sunday’s game? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Texans season?
I think Houston probably goes into halftime tied with Philly at around 10 points, but then by about five minutes left in the fourth quarter the Texans will be down by two...let’s say it’s 18-16 after a safety gives the Eagles a lead sometime in the second half. Deshaun Watson will then mount a clock-killing, game-winning drive in those final five minutes that is capped off by a Fairbairn field goal to win it 19-18. Jubilation will be had by all....HOWEVER, everybody will continue to not take the Texans seriously because that final drive will be helped out by at least one questionable helmet to helmet penalty on the Eagles, and a missed offensive pass interference call on DeAndre Hopkins that none of the refs saw. The win will be seen as a fluke. Houston will end up getting the second seed, and then they’ll bumble their way to another win in the divisional round to advance to the AFC Championship game.
That’s basically been the script for Houston’s entire season. Why change the formula now?