The Houston Texans had their four game winning streak snapped by the Bills in Buffalo yesterday. Fortunately, the Steelers did the Texans a huge favor in their drubbing the Colts, keeping the Houston tied with Indianapolis atop the division. But here is what we learned from the Texans loss:
1. The Texans still are vulnerable to the run
After being really good against the run the last few weeks, LeSean McCoy had a big day yesterday. He carried the rock 21 times for 112 yards with a long of 32 to set the tone for the Bills up front. It wasn’t just McCoy, the Texans have had some issues with mobile quarterbacks all year. Alex Smith isn’t the most fleet afoot but he has some shiftiness to him, Cam Newton also beat the Texans early on, Ryan Tannehill is a mobile guy and the Dolphins won easily. The Texans did manage to avoid playing against Marcus Mariota the first time, which helped them beat the Titans. But Tyrod Taylor did a number on the Texans yesterday, allowing the Bills to win. He rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Mobile quarterbacks keep the pass rush at bay more, which goes into my second point…
2. One sack is not good enough
The Texans got one sack yesterday from J…you all thought it was J.J. Watt right? Nope! It was Jadeveon Clowney. It’s good that he made an impact Sunday, also with two tackles for loss and three total tackles. He also got a hit on Taylor as well. While Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL, he can’t do it all himself. He’s gotta get help from Clowney and Whitney Mercilus on a routine basis. This defense needs pass rush to make big plays/force turnovers in the secondary.
3. Once again, there are other weapons besides DeAndre Hopkins
The leading receiver yesterday was not Hopkins, as you might have guessed, nor was it Ryan Griffin, (doesn’t his name just make you think of Family Guy every time you hear it?), who caught a touchdown on the cover nobody defense. It was Cecil Shorts. The former Jaguar caught six passes for 91 yards, including a 23 yard long on 10 targets. Hopkins still made plays, including catching one of Brian Hoyer’s three touchdown passes. What’s even better is that the running game made a difference, rushing for 126 yards on 26 carries from six different players. Chris Polk averaged over five yards per carry, as did Jonathan Grimes. Alfred Blue took a backseat in this one with just 14 yards on four carries. The offense is becoming more balanced, something that was not there earlier this season. Particularly against divisional foe Indianapolis, which leads into my next point.
4. The Texans division hopes come down to week 15
Let’s be real here—week 15 is likely going to be for all the marbles. The Colts will be able to win the division in week 15 if they defeat the Jaguars in Jacksonville this week and the Texans lose to the Patriots. Let’s hope neither of those happen, but I’m just saying if the Texans go into Indianapolis, a place where they have NEVER won, down a game and lose then they are two games back with two to play and they have been swept in the season series. That’d be it.
It doesn’t mean that Houston couldn’t compete for a wild card spot, but if they are 6-8 and the rest of the AFC has had a chance to move ahead, it might be too late. I know the team is not looking ahead, but the Texans are going to need to make some history in a couple weeks or they are likely out of the playoffs.