The Philadelphia Eagles are set to play the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. In order to preview this Week 9 Thursday Night Football matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Battle Red Blog. The sensible Scott B. took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming battle. Let’s take a look at the answers. [For my answers to Jeff’s questions about the Eagles, check out BRB.]
Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook have all of the odds for this week’s games.
1 - There seemed to be some optimism about how Davis Mills played as a rookie. How’s he looking in Year 2? Buying or selling him as a franchise QB?
Mills has definitely regressed. Of course, this is where the pundits, fans, and everyone else have differing opinions. The Texans have a lack of talent and their offensive scheme isn’t all that imaginative. So, one could argue that Mills has been set up to fail and there is certainly a lot to that line of thinking. However, franchise quarterbacks overcome these things at least often enough to make you see the potential. I personally don’t see it. I don’t think Mills is horrible, He is much like a number of guys around the league that are capable of starting multiple games without killing your team. He does some things well and he makes enough plays to show he belongs in the league, but the Texans will be drafting a quarterback next spring. The only question will be which one.
2 - Fair to say Lovie Smith will be one and done? If so, who do Texans fans want to realistically replace him? Do you think they might revisit hiring Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon?
This one is a mystery at this point. I think two things are definitely true. First, Lovie isn’t going to be the coach that leads this team anywhere. Secondly, I don’t think he’s the guy you want tutoring a rookie quarterback. From there, I couldn’t tell you what the plan is long-term. If they sack Lovie it will be the third consecutive season where they’ve fired their head coach. I honestly couldn’t tell you who would want this job at that point. Gannon got two interviews here, so someone likes him. The Texans fired executive vice president Jack Easterby and he had a hand in both of the past two coaching searches. How much of a hand is open to debate and how his absence would effect the next search is anyone’s best guess. Gannon has the Eagles’ defense playing better, so he is an intriguing candidate. I would think DeMeco Ryans would also be intriguing given his Texans’ ties. However, an offensive mind would be more attractive given the likelihood of drafting Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud.
3 - What is the Texans’ biggest strength? How should they be attacking the Eagles?
The best thing the Texans do is run the ball. Dameon Pierce is a possible offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. When you consider how little the Texans have to work with offensively he should be the odds on favorite. If they could control the clock they could keep the Eagles offense off the field and shorten the game. The Texans greatest strength is their ability to get their opponents to play their worst game of the year. I’m not sure if it is the way they scheme or if they have some voodoo witch doctor behind the scenes. All but one of the Texans’ games have been one score games and I’m just not sure how they are doing it. They are in the positive on the plus/minus so far which seems incredible for a 1-5-1 team. They play ugly and they get their opponents to play ugly. I’d expect more of the same on Thursday night.
4 - What is the Texans’ biggest weakness? What should the Eagles be looking to exploit?
This one is easy. Run the ball and when you’re tired of running the ball then run it some more. The Texans are dead ass last in rushing yards allowed and that is with one fewer games played than most of the league. The Titans just gained more than 300 yards against them and they knew the run was coming. They put seven and eight in the box and it still didn’t matter. Malik Willis wasn’t a threat to throw the ball and it still didn’t matter. Jalen Hurts can probably get some cheap yards as well. It isn’t even so much that our pass defense is that good, but running the ball is so easy that it really shouldn’t be a second thought.
5 - Who wins this game and why? With DraftKings Sportsbook listing the Eagles as heavy 13.5-point favorites, what’s your score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Texans season?
The Eagles are winning this game. There will be no drama there. The drama comes in the number. All but one of the Texans games have been one score games. I will take the points and go with the Texans. I have nothing in terms of hard hitting analysis to explain why that is the best play. There is nothing the Texans do that will particularly challenge the Eagles. Our offense certainly won’t be a threat to score much and our defense is also bad. We just have a knack for keeping the game closer than it should be. In terms of the rest of the season, I expect the Texans to stumble into another win or two just because it’s the NFL, but I can’t imagine we will ever be favored from here on out. It’s at this point that people will point out how dower this all sounds. The good news is they did have a good draft class this past year and they have extra picks again the next two seasons. Watching those young players will give the Texans’ faithful some hope, so maybe by December and January things will look better than they do now. There are five current starters from the last draft. There are three from the previous draft. If you keep doing that eventually you’ll have something. So, we are patiently waiting for that day to come.