Houston Texans Games by Difficulty: No. 10
We continue the countdown of the most difficult games of the Houston Texans 2016 season with their game against the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City:
The Raiders haven’t had a winning season since 2002. Since then they’ve been through head coaches about as quickly as toilet paper, made terrible free agent signings and trades (gave a boatload for Carson Palmer, signed Javon Walker to a massive deal, etc.) and made some bad draft choices (Jamarcus Russell, enough said). But since Reggie McKenzie took over, things have starter to turn around–they have a franchise quarterback in Derek Carr, big play receiver in Amari Cooper and defensive stalwart in Khalil Mack (whom I thought the Texans should have taken over Jadeveon Clowney).
The younger Carr has gotten much better help than his brother did. Derek went onto a team with a solid offensive line, a thousand yard back in Latavius Murray and playmakers have been brought in around him in Cooper, Michael Crabtree and tight end Clive Walford. The issue has been the secondary–which ranked 26th in pass defense last season despite having respectable totals of touchdowns allowed (25) and interceptions (14) and ranking in the top ten in yards allowed per attempt.
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To shore up the secondary they brought in Sean Smith from the Chiefs, Reggie Nelson from the Bengals, who tied for the NFL lead with eight interceptions in 2015, and drafted Karl Joseph in the first round (another player I wanted the Texans to get). The Raiders look ready for the big time again.
Brock Osweiler did not look good against the Raiders in Denver last season. Mack brought him down five times in the second half, en route to a 15-12 win. While Osweiler threw for 308 yards, the Broncos could not find the end zone.
The history against the Raiders has been good for the Texans. They entered the league right as the Raiders fell from prominence. The Texans won the first three meetings and five of the first six, but have lost two of the last three. In 2011 the Raiders won in Houston after the passing of Al Davis and then beat the Texans during the 2013 debacle before the Texans won in week two of the 2014 season.
This week 11 showdown will show us a lot about both teams. The Texans defense will have their hands full with what I imagine will be one of the more potent offenses in the NFL. The Texans will win if they can make plays with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller against the revamped Raiders secondary–should be an exciting game.