The Texans have one of the weakest offenses in the NFL. In fact, only one team is worse than Houston, which averages 288.7 yards a game, with the Tennessee Titans averaging fewer yards per game with an NFL-low 285.6 yards/per game.
Houston has a mediocre passing attack, averaging 196.3 yards per game from quarterback Davis Mills.
The only way the Texans will have a chance against the Eagles, 14-point favorites on the road on a short week, is to get running back Dameon Pierce going, extending drives and keeping the Eagles offense off the field.
It’s highly improbable.
But it is the NFL.
On any given night, strange things have been known to occur. Still, the Eagles are bracing themselves for Pierce.
“Good player,” Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said when questioned about Pierce earlier this week. “I mean, really good player. Got a high opinion of him. He jumps off the tape. Typically, I don’t put up a lot of backs in front of the room and say, ‘Hey, guys, this is a challenge ahead.’ He was one of them.
“He’s tough. He has vision. He’s explosive. He breaks tackles. He runs violently. Can catch it out of the backfield. They deploy him in a good way. The run schemes that they use, they accentuate his skill set, which is pretty cool, and we’ve got a big-time challenge.”
Houston needs something to work. The Texans have scored an NFL-low 116 points, which translates into an NFL-low average of 16.6 points/per game. Davis has thrown six interceptions, tied for 22nd in the league. He’ll need as much protection possible from the Eagles’ pass rush.
The Eagles lead the NFL with 16 turnovers, though despite this, Gannon is looking for more.
“I think our guys are just playing good football,” Gannon said. “We’ve got to continue to play good football with all that encompasses. We’re always chasing that game where it’s completely clean. I don’t know if you ever get to that game where it’s completely clean.
“But our guys know what things we need to improve on, on a daily basis from game to game. I think the level of understanding with what we’re asking them to do, I think that’s the biggest reason for the jump (in turnovers) in some of those numbers.”
Pierce is a load to bring down at 5-foot-10, 212 pounds. The fourth-round pick from Florida has a punishing running style that enables him to break tackles. Missed tackles have been one of the few flaws that the Eagles have had at times this season. For the 1-5-1 Texans, Pierce has rushed for 539 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards a carry.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written features for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, and his breaking story on Carson Wentz for PhillyVoice on January 21, 2019. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.