The Texans (9-5) can close out the AFC South with a win in Tampa Bay Saturday afternoon against the Bucs (7-7), who have won four in a row and five of their last six games. It likely will not be easy, as the Bucs don’t play around with a running game. They will attack Houston’s weak secondary and may force a shootout, which could be a lot of fun to watch.
Let’s see how the BRB staff predicts this one:
Tim: Texans 28, Buccaneers 24.
If the Bucs had Mike Evans and Chris Godwin healthy, I would pick them to win. With the Texans’ complete lack of a pass rush and Bruce Arians’ commitment to airing it out with Jameis Winston, it’s easy to conjure images of Evans and Godwin repeatedly trotting into the end zone with Houston cornerbacks trailing them by three or more steps.
But Evans and Godwin are out, so as much as Arians might want to let it rip, his available personnel greatly limits his ability to do that. While I still expect Tampa to get behind Houston’s secondary for at least one deep score, the fear of it happening over and over isn’t there like it would otherwise be. Give me the Texans in a close game to win the division on Saturday afternoon.
Matt Weston: Texans 31, Buccaneers 27.
Houston is the only bottom six pass defense DVOA team with a winning record, and you’d have to go all the way up to Tennessee at 22nd to find another team floating above .500. The obscene devouring schedule they were up against this season has been watered down. Those passing offenses we were so afraid of this August didn’t come to fruition: Los Angeles (C) and Atlanta crumbled, Patrick Mahomes was hobbled, obscene and stupid game plans by Jacksonville twice and Indianapolis once on Thursday Night Football, New England’s passing offense no longer even described as mediocre, and now they head to Tampa. Jameis Winston is without both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Get ready for Justin Watson, Cameron Brate, Breshad Perriman, and O.J. Howard. Luck does not shine on the Titans as they look to extend this division battle into Week 17, but it does on the Texans once again.
The Bucs don’t run the ball. The Texans do, and will, and they’ll do so against the league’s best run defense on a per play basis, thanks to Vita Vea, Carl Nassib, Jason Pierre-Paul, Lavonte David, Devin White, big blitzing safeties, press coverage cornerbacks, and the fact that no one runs against them, because coverage is optional in Tampa Bay. It’s a claustrophobic defense where the exit door is open and a foot away.
This game should end up matching each passing offense against one another in the middle of a drenched Florida storm. The Texans have the better quarterback, their receivers are healthy, and that should be enough to outduel the hamstrung Winston.
Chris: Bucs 33, Texans 30.
I just don’t trust this Texans team under O’Brien after the Carolina and Denver fiascoes. The Bucs get up early and in the second half O’Brien lets Jesu—uhm, Deshaun - take the wheel. Watson brings them back late to tie the game but the vaunted “end of half Texans defense” gives up the ghost enough to position the Bucs to kick a game-winning field goal at the gun.
(Yes, they seem to always win when I pick them to lose, and despite me not being at all superstitious due to being an ADULT - I still choose this path.)
Capt Ron: Texans 31, Bucs 30.
I hate this game. It has all the makings of another slow start with Watson pulling magic out of a hat in the second half to save O’Brien from embarrassment with another unprepared squad in a game that has playoff implications. The short week and loss of Bernardrick McKinney to the concussion protocol makes this really bad for an already struggling Houston defense.
On the flip side, the Texans have actually performed better on the road than at home in many games this season. Maybe they need to arrange hotels for home games to get the players’ heads in the game sooner at NRG. Who knows?!!
One thing I do know is that O’Brien loves these three things with obscene consistency:
1. Diet coke.
Side note: You know, for a smart guy, I wish he’d read up on this poison that is fooling his brain into actually consuming more calories instead of losing any meaningful weight.
2. Establishing the run.
3. One-possession tilts.
BFmf’nD: Texans 38, Bucs 34.
I cannot remember being more excited about a game. This game should be like a tennis match between two heavyweights, throwing the ball downfield and putting up lots of points.
I mean, seriously, it’s been odd that very few teams attack us downfield. But Jameis Winston and Bruce Arians? Even without Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, our secondary will struggle.
Mike: Texans 24 Buccaneers 27
Since I’m on a streak of picking the wrong way, I may as well go with it.
Tampa has put up over 900 passing yards the last two games. Houston’s secondary seems to give that up every time the opponent has a chance to come from behind and win in the final minute.
Once again, the Texans come out flat after a win and lose. Then Tennessee wins making the final game of the year a winner take all affaire.
Kenneth L: Texans 30, Bucs 27
The only reason we win this game is because the Bucs two best receivers are out. Who knew that Tampa had a legit team? Everyone saw this schedule before the season and thought we’d glide into the playoffs with an easy end of the season. Tampa has the hottest offense, the league’s leader in sacks, and Bruce Arians as head coach. Who knows what’s going to happen on Saturday. This is a team we rarely face and has nothing to lose.
Texans win on a game winning field goal. I don’t like this game one bit. If the Texans win we r in the playoffs. Rarely does this franchise make it simple, so I doubt this result happens.
TexanRevJ: Texans 28 Buccaneers 24
I don’t like this game at all. The NFL better be lucky that the Buccaneers aren’t going to the playoffs this season. Like the Broncos, they are better than their record says.
Luckily Mike Evans is out for this game. I’d pick different if he was playing. However, the Texans still have one more game to win before their occasional loss. Plus it’s technically a primetime game, and we know how Deshaun Watson plays when the whole world is watching.
It’ll be a struggle stopping the Buccaneers offense, but count on Jameis Winston to throw his weekly interception while the game is close and for Watson to work his late game magic. The Texans win the AFC South for the sixth time this decade and label themselves officially the kings of the AFC South in the 2010’s
Feel free to use the comments below to predict the outcome of Saturday’s game. Above all else, have fun and enjoy a break from CHRISTMAS NIGHTMARES.