After an unexpectedly narrow loss to the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football in Mexico City, the Houston Texans train their laser pointers on the San Diego Charges Sunday at NRG Stadium.
Everyone’s favorite red-faced hillbilly Philip Rivers will lead his Chargers, a team that has arguably squandered more would-be wins than anyone this NFL season, into town.
Last week was a clean sweep for the staff correctly picking Oakland over the Texans. Let’s see how this week goes, shall we?
Tim: Texans 23, Chargers 20.
The Chargers are a better team than their record indicates, and that's due in large part to the troubling reality that Philip Rivers finds a way to score points almost without exception. Melvin Gordon looks increasingly like what the Chargers hoped he'd be when they drafted him, and Antonio Gates somehow continues to produce. Rivers leads a passing game that remains productive despite them seemingly making anonymous wide receivers into contributors out of the ether.
But the Texans' defense has shown that they are a legitimate force. Give the edge to Houston's defense at home. Lamar Miller will continue to shoulder the load on offense for the Texans, but did you know that Brock Osweiler has posted a rating of at least 81.5 over his last three games? That's not getting him to Canton anytime soon, and I'll admit I may be grading on a bit of a curve, but there's no doubt Osweiler's been better the last few weeks. I expect more of the same--nothing fantastic, but decent--from Osweiler on Sunday. He's not going to outplay Philip Rivers, yet he'll do enough to help his team get its seventh victory of the season in a close game at NRG Stadium.
Chris: Chargers 17, Texans 14.
I’ve been feeling like the Texans were poised to start a negative slide for several weeks now, and happily they have proved me wrong. This is a very winnable game for Houston, but the Chargers have certainly blown many opportunities this season. I expect this offense to continue to struggle, and it really isn’t fair that they could only give up 17 points to the Chargers and still lose - but that’s what will happen when Nick Novak misses a late field goal to tie it up.
Luke: Texans 24, Chargers 16.
In my own morbid curiosity, I went back and looked through the predictions I've made this season. I've only called for the Texans to win four games this season (one of which was the game against the Patriots, which in hindsight was a terrible idea). I'm 3-1 when I pick the Texans to win, so I hope you're all ready for a 75% chance of the Texans winning this Sunday, because I'm going to say they beat the Chargers.
They shouldn't win, considering how gosh darn efficient Philip Rivers can be when he's throwing to nobody but Antonio Gates and Tyrell Williams (?), and San Diego’s defense is also sneakily good (10th in overall DVOA and 9th against the pass) with pass rushers like Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa having good years. That being said, the Texans’ offense didn't look terrible last week and it's given me the delusion that maybe this could be a nice interlude from what has been a season of ''meh''. Just get Braxton Miller and Will Fuller involved and run more outside runs for Lamar Miller. That's all I ask.
One thing what I think will be really interesting to watch, considering the Texans LBs’ faux pas in conceding that game-winning TD last week, will be how they handle Melvin Gordon out of the backfield; specifically, who is going to get stuck on him in man coverage. While Benardrick McKinney has been fantastic this year against the run and as a blitzer, I still believe that a team can expose the coverage issues that the Texans have been plagued with in the past to great success.
I still think the Texans get by on another solid defensive performance and the offense doing just enough to get them over the line.
Capt. Ron: Texans 24, Chargers 17.
They may be in last place in the AFC West, but most of their losses were one score from being notched as a win. Melvin Gordon had a quiet rookie season last year, but he is hot right now, living up to the high expectations many had for him prior to the 2015 NFL Draft. Stopping Gordon’s ability to rush and receive is the key to winning this game.
Notwithstanding a couple of passes he'd like to have back in the MNF tilt against the Raiders in Mexico, Brock looked to have finally turned the corner in his development. We need that to continue this week to take pressure off the Houston defense and to bring some relief to Lamar Miller, who has been used like a rented mule as the only viable running back on the roster.
If the officiating, lasers, paper airplanes, and turf are removed from the equation this week, the Texans will win.
Mike: Texans 30, Chargers 20.
Really liked what the Texans did on Monday night against the Raiders, who are certainly a better team than San Diego. This week, the team's chip gets too big for any opponent to shoulder and they continue to win at home.
Lamar Miller and Akeem Hunt both get touchdowns on the ground, and Brock throws one to Braxton Miller again but also throws a pick that stops a solid drive. The Third Coast United Kickball League scores on three out of four field goal attempts. A few mental errors let the Chargers back into the game in the fourth quarter, but even the Rivers Magic isn't enough to steal a win at NRG.
Weston: Chargers 27, Texans 20.
It's going to be a one possession game. It's going to be silly. I just don't think HOU will hold SD to less than 20 points.
UprootedTexan: Texans 24, Chargers 20.
Brock Osweiler throws a game for Texans fans to remember (in a good way this time!), and the defense does enough to keep Melvin Gordon and Philip Rivers from scoring more than the Texans do.
The Texans fared much better this week with the “brain trust.” We’ll see how it plays out. I think this one will go down to the final possession.
Feel free to use the comments below to give us your game predictions. Enjoy the game!