The Houston Texans are going to have a tough task with this New York Jets defense on Sunday. C.J. Stroud will face arguably his toughest task of the season, as the Jets are loaded with elite defensive playmakers. They're so loaded with talent that the face of the defense, Sauce Gardner, isn't even in the Top 3 of the highest PFF-rated defensive Jets players.
For Stroud, this is going to be a truly defining game for him. Is he going to be able to rise above the noise and make some plays for the Texans when they need him most, or is he going to let the talent he's facing down get the best of him in a game that can truly go either way? Well, could go either way, assuming the Jets were significantly better on offense.
For the Texans to lose this game, the Jets offense would have to do something it hasn't been able to do all season; score points. It's likely that if Aaron Rodgers never got hurt the Jets would have one of, if not the best record in the NFL right now, but that's not the case, is it? Instead, they're going to over-rely on their defense, as usual.
Look at their defense. They have Quinnen Williams, C.J. Mosley, D.J. Reed, Gardner, Quincy Williams, Bryce Huff, and Jermaine Johnson; PFF's seven highest-rated defensive players. All of whom have a 76.4 or higher. That's a stout defense. Especially with Williams at the center of it. He's among the most dominant defensive tackles currently in the NFL; and has been for three of the last four years.
This season, he's ranked No. 2 among all defensive tackles, second to just Dexter Lawrence, the New York Giants defensive tackle. The two men both call New York their home and would be getting far more praise for their work had their respective teams not fallen apart this season. As for Williams, he'll single-handedly end the Texans' attempts to run the ball, as the Texans are already quite bad at the ground game.
And with how bad Dameon Pierce is this season, and how much Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans keeps using him, it's likely that Pierce doesn't net any positive yardage against the Jets front four all game. We hope he does, it's just not very likely with how bad he's been and how good the Jets' front four is.
That means over-relying on the passing game, and it's why we think that Stroud will struggle against the Jets' defense. They'll be keyed into trying and stopping Stroud since they can (more than likely) control the running game with relative ease. With the Texans missing Tank Dell, they're also going to have a bit fewer weapons to try and keep pace with, making this a very interesting challenge for the Texans
With the way they can negate a running game, get after the passer, and contest guys on their routes, the Texans are going to be in for one tough outing.