This is a very big and very important game. Houston can clinch the AFC South with a win this week or next week. They are currently in line the #2 seed in the AFC. Win out and they get a bye. Lose once, and if the Patriots win one of their last two games against the Bills or Jets, and they’ll once again do something they’ve never done before.
The Eagles are 7-7. They still aren’t dead. They play the Redskins next week. They can still catch Minnesota for the #6 seed in the NFC. If Dallas drops back-to-back games against the Buccaneers and the Giants, and if the Eagles win out, Philadelphia will win the NFC East. Reality is very fragile.
With that in mind, here are our picks for Sunday’s game. Leave yours in the comments below, loyal reader. I’d love to hear what you think about what’s a super interesting game.
Mike Bullock: Texans 24 Eagles 21.
Common sense says there’s no way Houston wins this one. But, when you add up the Super Bowl hangover the Eagles have, the Texans’ ability to win games they should have lost this season, and the “Any Given Sunday” mantra, I feel compelled to call this in favor of the boys from H-Town.
I predict DeAndre Carter has his first touchdown return, D’Onta Foreman racks up a 100-yard game, and thanks to some highlight reel last minute heroics from DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans win, clinch the division, and give us all a great Christmas gift.
Matt “I Hate The Texas Rangers And The Game Of Baseball” Weston: Eagles 31, Texans 27.
Do the Eagles throw the football? Kind of. Last week, Nick Foles completed 24 of 31 passes for 270 yards and one interception. He may not have thrown a touchdown, but he did get Philly close enough to the goal line twice. Long live that Jared Goff mental hair-eating breakdown throw!
The best thing Foles did was throw the ball downfield to Alshon Jeffery instead of dinking it to Zach Ertz as Carson Wentz did. It worked. Aqib Talib wasn’t ready to play football yet, and Jeffery destroyed him. Houston can’t even cover Nelson Agholor or Dallas Goedert, let alone Jeffery.
Philly runs the football, but they run it a way that can actually attack Houston. There’s lots of pulling, misdirection, weak-side runs with two tight ends on the strong side, that weird zone play where the center pulls that breaks my brain every time, and they can take advantage of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney’s aggressiveness. Their offensive line is also healthy again, and they’re finally playing their five best players. Dammit, I love Brandon Brooks. This will be an interesting precursor for if Houston plays Baltimore this postseason.
The Eagles don’t have any cornerback depth. Malcolm Jenkins is the only good player left in their secondary. Yet they get pressure with four defenders; it’s murderous. Whenever I watch an Eagles game, I’m always flabbergasted. Haloti Ngata, Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Timmy Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox...holy crap. They have him? How are they this bad?
The only player they’re missing is Super Bwl hero Derek Barnett, who has trouble breathing. I’m in the minority in the fact that I think Houston’s offensive line is alright. The pass blocking has been an issue, not because they’ve been missing one-on-one blocks, but because teams have blitzed around their chips, beat up on their tight ends in protection, and Deshaun Watson hasn’t found open players on long developing pass plays.
I don’t think the Texans will be able to block the Eagles’ defensive line. Kendall Lamm versus Graham is horrifying. Senio Kelemete versus Cox is lying in a car that’s running with the garage door closed. If Watson can get enough time, there will be open players downfield. I just don’t think he will.
ANYWAYS, because I’m thinking Philly will throw the football, I’m picking them to win. Additionally, I think the Eagles will be able to run the ball a bit, and they will turn the pocket into a hornet’s nest.
Diehard Chris: Eagles 30, Texans 21.
This just comes down to whether the Texans can step up in a tough road environment against a team desperate for a win, fighting for their playoff lives. It also comes down to “How will the Texans keep Fletcher Cox from turning Deshaun Watson into a pile of pink, mushy bones?”.
I think the Eagles will put it all together on Sunday as they pull out all the stops to get into the playoffs. Plus, let’s not forget - during the Texans’ win streak, Bill O’Brien hasn’t exactly been putting on a coaching clinic, nor has he been facing a lot of fantastic coaches. This game certainly feels like one where we would expect O’Brien to get outcoached, but Houston’s run defense and the playmaking ability of Deshaun Watson could sneak out a win. It will certainly take Watson being on top of his game to pull this one out.
If it turns out Philly’s surprising road win against the Rams last week was just a mirage, then sure - the Texans can pull this one out. I just feel like Doug Pederson will get his against O’Brien, and more specifically, against the weak spots in Houston’s defense.
Offensively, until the Texans’ offensive line gets better at pass protection, and until Watson himself beats the blitz more effectively and doesn’t eat the ball, we will continue to see what we’ve seen. That stuff isn’t likely to change in-season (depending on level of competition). I just feel like this team is very susceptible against good teams; teams like the Eagles and Colts that occasionally play well.
Capt Ron: Texans 23, Eagles 20.
For the first time in franchise history, the Texans will secure a first-round bye with the #2 seed in the playoffs. There have been some hiccups and weaknesses in the last 14 performances for Houston, but the players and coaches finally clean up things for a solid outing to extend their road-game winning streak to six.
bigfatdrunk: Eagles 27, Texans 19.
With Lamar Miller trending to play, thus hopefully sparing us from watching the second worst RB in the NFL tote the ball in Alfred Blue, this game looks a bit more promising. Of course, we should be a pass offense, anyway, so hopefully something was learned against the Jets (though doubtful!). Also helpful is that Nick Foles is athletically limited.
However, the Iggles’ defensive front four and their subs are incredibly tough, and how do our DBs cover Jeffery or Agholor or Ertz or their running backs or the Philly subs salesman?
In the end, I think Doug Pederson simply out-coaches Marvin O’Brain, and the Texans lose 27-19 (four FGs and a solitary TD).
Also, too, make sure you have Kaimi Fairbairn in your FFL lineup. ALL TEH FGS.
Tim: Texans 24, Eagles 23.
The Texans should lose this game. They’re playing the defending Super Bowl Champions. On the road. In late December. Said defending champs have to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, and the champs are coming off a great victory over the Rams in Los Angeles.
The Texans also have no business being the playoff hunt, much less leading their division, much less having a shot at a bye in the AFC Playoffs, after starting the year 0-3.
I’m through trying to apply logic to this team. Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and a defense that continues to answer the bell won’t let me.