My friends, it is finally here. The 2016 season is poised to kickoff just two days from now, when the new-look Houston Texans will trot out an entirely new offense with an entirely new set of expectations. Oh, and that J.J. Watt guy is back along with nine other starters from last season's third-ranked defense.
This season, Darth Tim has bestowed upon the the BRB Staff his personal "Three and Out" space for our weekly predictions. There's going to be plenty to read, so let's get right to it!
Tim: Texans 24, Bears 16.
I'd guess that Brock Osweiler doesn't look as flawless as he did in his vaunted preseason performance against the Cardinals, which is to say he'll throw for 221 yards with one touchdown and an interception, which will in turn provide fodder for Texans fans to worry or outright declare that he's not "the guy." Lamar Miller, on the other hand, will look like a revelation as he rushes for 112 yards and finds the end zone twice. The defense--with J.J. Watt playing less than half of the snaps--will be stout, forcing two turnovers and sacking Jay Cutler three times. Perhaps most shockingly of all, Tyler Ervin will have at least one return that goes for more than 35 yards.
Chris HDH: Texans 30, Bears 13.
No reason to over-analyze this one. The Bears just don't figure to be very good this year, and I'm counting on the Houston defense to pick up where it left off last year; avoiding a repeat of the baffling start they had in 2015. I have pretty much the same guarded optimism as anyone when it comes to Brock Osweiler. I don't have high expectations for him early in the season. I'm just hoping he can move the ball, avoid turnovers, and stay upright considering what is my and most other Texans fans' biggest fear - that shaky AF offensive line.
BattleRedCoat: Texans 24, Bears 10.
Brock has impressed me enough to believe in his capabilities and with how good rookies Fuller and Miller looked in preseason, I think the Texans' offense takes off and puts up a few scores on a Bears team lacking Pernell McPhee on defense. Lamar Miller will be able to put up some good yards no matter who is blocking for him, and against the 22nd ranked rushing defense from 2015, I think he'll have a good day.
J.J. is back. Jadeveon, Whitney, Cushing and McKinney have looked formidable so far, so I think we will limit their rushing game. Their passing game is a threat, but hopefully with enough pressure from the J.J. and co. that should be enough for us to cause problems for Jay Cutler.
Hopkins and Braxton Miller with receiving TDs, a Lamar Miller rushing TD, and a Novak kick for me.
MDC: Texans 37, Bears 6.
It seems like a very Texans thing to do to destroy the Week 1 opponent in such a way that makes us all WAY too excited for the future. I think this will be Brock's highest passing-yardage game outside of divisional play, and I look for DeAndre to have the kind of game that makes talking heads have hot takes about "Is HE the best WR in football RIGHT NOW???"
Plus, J.J. Watt needs to feed on the blood of mortals, and he didn't get to do that in preseason. So Cutler should probably fake an injury or something if he wants to live.
Also, the Bears get 6 when their new kicker misses an XP after a fluke TD.
Luke: Texans 27, Bears 16.
Less than a hundred yards for Hopkins, a TD pass to Ryan Griffin, 100+ rushing yards and a TD for Lamar Miller, Osweiler throws for between 250-300 with a TD with an interception. As for the defense, it keeps the Bears in check for most of day with a late passing TD to Kevin White the only blip in the day. All in all, a nice way to start the season; the defense looks solid and the offense moves along nicely enough.
BFD: Texans 27, Bears 13.
This is a really good opening match-up for us with the Texans' team strengths and weaknesses. The Bears aren't going to do a good job getting to the QB, which helps out our questionable offensive line. In addition, the Bears' secondary is iffy at best.
On the other side of the ball, we'll likely give up some interior rushing yards, and it's unlikely Cutler will have enough time to adequately exploit our weaknesses, a/k/a Quentin Demps.
Brett: Texans 20, Bears 10.
The Bears are rather under the radar this year as a playoff contender, and unfortunately for them they are entering the season very unhealthy. Pernell McPhee is out, and their top three corners are all coming off of injuries of varying degrees. They just signed Josh Sitton to bolster a shaky offensive line, but who knows how long it will take him to get up to speed in this Chicago offense.
Overall, I just think that the Texans roster is "more ready" for a Week One contest than the Bears are, though I fully expect Chicago to be a much tougher team by midseason when everyone hits their stride.
As for individual predictions for the Texans, I think this will be more of a showcase for the passing offense than for the run game. McPhee's absence obviously helps Lamar Miller a whole lot, but I really do like Houston's matchups with their wide receivers more than anything. Not one member of Chicago's secondary has the wheels to keep up with Will Fuller if he gets a clean release downfield, and with so many people worried about DeAndre Hopkins on the other side, I expect Fuller to get plenty of one-on-one looks throughout the day. The bombs will be dropping early and often...assuming Osweiler can make the throws, that is.
UprootedTexan: Texans 20, Bears 7.
With Watt coming back sooner than what was originally feared, I think the defense should have little trouble stopping the anemic Bears offense and its indifferent quarterback. I expect Watt and Clowney to get a sack each, and I'll make a side bet that Covington finds himself in the backfield a surprising amount. That said, I do think they get a touchdown off this defense, but considering how the Bears didn't even get a first down in their opening game last year, that would be a vast improvement.
As for Brock Osweiler's flying circus, I don't think the secondary, whether they're back or not, is going to be able to keep up with the Texans' receivers. I expect 125-ish yards from Hopkins, one deep TD from Fuller, and maybe one act of receiving sorcery from Braxton Miller (that could be because I saw a video of his game against Virginia Tech last year).
Capt Ron: Texans 24, Bears 13.
Houston flashes dominance in all three phases, but also allows some slop and mistakes to keep expectations tempered as the 2016 regular season gets going.
kdentify: Texans 17, Bears 10.
This game should be about the men under center. I expect Osweiler to struggle a little in his first regular season start for his new team, especially given the question marks along the offensive line. I also expect Cutler to Cutler and make enough mistakes from sheer frustration that allow our defense to take advantage.
Mike Bullock: Texans 24, Bears 10.
Houston's defense dominates this game, contributing one touchdown and putting the offense is scoring position multiple times. Both offenses struggle to find a rhythm, and Lamar Miller steals the show with 150+ combined yards and two touchdowns.
Weston: Texans 24, Bears 16.
This is a perfect matchup to start the year for Houston. They are playing a solid team. Not a great team. Not a bad team. But a solid team. Chicago's offense will give Houston some nasty looks. Stopping the run on the interior has been a problem for a few years, and the Bears have three good interior linemen and Kendall Langford. Jay CUTLA is an above -verage quarterback, even if everyone hates him. With him throwing to Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White and Zach Miller, Houston's deep secondary will be challenged. I am going to spend my Sunday screaming at the dog if Houston comes with their corners playing eight yards deep. Oh wow, I think I just talked myself into the Bears scoring five touchdowns this game.
More specifically, this is a perfect matchup to start off for Osweiler. I'm dubious that Houston will be able to block well at all this year; the rushing attack will come primarily from Lamar Miller being a magic man. And with good tacklers in Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, I think Lamar will be limited on Sunday. So it will be all Osweiler throwing to Hopkins, Fuller, Strong, Miller, and others against a poopy secondary and a slow pass rush. We finally can see what Osweiler can do as a starter. This should be a game where he can be better than Hoyer/Fitzpatrick/Savage/Weeden/Yates/Mallett ever was.
It will be close. Osweiler will outduel Jay CUTLA in a fun opening week win.
TexansTakeaway: Texans 20, Bears 10.
Houston's young offense will continue to work well together, and Lamar Miller will break loose and run all over Chicago. Special teams will help the Texans instead of hindering them, and the defense will shine like it always does. Houston's offensive line will be mediocre, but the Bears are kind of awful, so the Texans will still come away with the win.
Well, that was a lot of predictions, and predictably a clean sweep for the Texans. I'm pleased you are still here. By all means, regale us with your thoughts on Sunday's 2016 debut in the comments below!
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