52 - Sacks allowed by the Texans, most in the NFL
Houston’s o-line has clearly done a terrible job of protecting Deshaun Watson this season. The Texans’ offensive line is very bad.
It ranks 32nd in pass protection by Football Outsiders. It ranks tied for 29th by the Pro Football Focus pass blocking efficiency metric.
In addition to allowing a league-leading 52 sacks, they’ve allowed 29 quarterback hits (seventh most) and 125 hurries (fourth most).
On paper, at least, this weakness seems like a big issue for the Texans as they prepare to face an Eagles team that actually leads the league in quarterback hits. Generating pressure is one of Philadelphia’s biggest strengths.
The Texans’ offensive line is especially weak on the edges; starting left tackle Julie’n Davenport has the second worst pressure rate in the league. This needs to be a game where Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, and Chris Long really dominate. Rushing Watson effectively can limit the Texans’ ability to get the ball to stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Watson has taken care of the ball when it comes to not throwing picks. He only has two interceptions in his last seven games, with both of them coming against Washington. Watson, who certainly isn’t afraid to take off running, can be a little loose with the ball, though. He has 11 fumbles in 20 career starts.
Getting to Watson and knocking the ball out will be key in this game. Jim Schwartz’s unit needs to give the offense some short field(s) to work with against a tough Houston defnse.
3.6 - Texans defense ranks 1st overall in opponent yards per rush attempt
The Eagles have had some nice offensive success when they’re been able to be balanced this season. It’s look like it’ll be tough to be balanced against the Texans, however, given that their run defense is stout. Football Outsiders ranks it second overall in terms of DVOA.
There’s some level of hope in the Eagles’ ability to run the ball since their offensive line has been playing at a high level recently. But the Texans’ front seven is just a real tough unit. J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney, and Zach Cunningham are some real legit players in that group.
If the Eagles aren’t going to be able to run the ball efficiently, that suddenly puts a whole lot of pressure on Nick Foles to deliver with his arm. There’s obviously reason to have some confidence in the reigning Super Bowl MVP. But the feeling here is that Foles plays better when the system is working for him. It’s not like he’s at his best when he’s going out and putting the entire team on his back in spite of everything else failing around him.
If the offensive line can protect Foles like they did last year (three hits, zero sacks) then the Eagles should be able to get some things going in passing game. They’ll likely need BDN to come up big once again on Sunday.
53% - Eagles’ playoff chances with a win
Independent of any other result, the Eagles’ playoff chances will increase from 39% to 53% by beating the Texans. Pretty solid.
If the Lions somehow score the upset AND the Eagles beat the Texans, that increases Philly’s odds to 76%. The Eagles would then just need to beat Washington in Week 17 to make the NFC playoff picture as the No. 6 seed (assuming Dallas doesn’t lose out). If the Vikings win and the Eagles win, Philly’s chances will only be around 35%. In that case, the Eagles would NEED the Vikings to lose to the Bears in Week 17.
The Eagles have their work cut out for them. Beating Houston won’t be easy. The Texans aren’t an absolute juggernaut but they’re not bad by any means. Winning on Sunday guarantees the Eagles will at least be playing meaningful football in the final week of the regular season. Here’s hoping they find a way to get it done.