This week’s Thursday matchup features the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles traveling to NRG Stadium to face the Houston Texans. The Eagles seem impossible to stop at the moment, so is there any way the Texans can pull off a major upset?
As mentioned, the Eagles remain the only undefeated team in the NFL after their 35-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. A huge reason for the Eagles’ current success is the strides Jalen Hurts has made. Against the Steelers, Hurts had another extremely efficient game as he completed 19-of-28 passes for 285 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Texans pass rush will have their hands full with Hurts. They have the eighth-lowest number of pressures with 52, they do have 15 sacks, but with Hurts’ ability to evade pressure and get outside the pocket will be tough to handle. We saw the Texans struggle just a few weeks ago with a rushing quarterback in Justin Fields, who ran for 47 yards on them. Not only is Hurts a threat on the ground, but Miles Sanders is as well. On nine attempts against the Steelers he ran for 78 yards and a touchdown, adding to his season total of 563 yards. The Texans run defense ranks as the worst in the NFL after allowing Derrick Henry to run for 219 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. They are allowing 186 rush yards per game and the fifth most rushing touchdowns with 10.
The pass defense of the Texans has the chance to step up though to keep this game a bit close. On the season they have allowed the fifth-lowest completion percentage with 60.2% for 1,523 yards and only five touchdowns. Derek Stingley Jr. has seen the most targets on the team with 48, and while he has allowed 30 completions, he is limiting yards after the catch. Of the 386 yards he has allowed, only 113 have come after the catch, and he has not allowed a single touchdown yet. Now though, he will have the task of helping to slow down either A.J. Brown, who is coming off a three touchdown game, or DeVonta Smith. Smith and Stingley have history as they faced off in college when LSU took on Alabama, and it was Smith who came out victorious with 231 yards and three touchdowns on eight receptions.
While the Eagles offense will be a problem both through the air and the ground, the Texans are not. When it comes to both their rushing offense and passing offense, they are ranked 28th. Davis Mills has been serviceable, completing 63.1% of his passes for 1,502 yards but for only eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Against the Tennessee Titans, Mills had a season low 152 passing yards, but he barely had any time to throw as the Texans offensive line could not stop the Titans defensive line. Mills was sacked three times, and the lack of offensive line help led to Dameon Pierce only getting 35 yards on the ground over 15 attempts. Things won’t get easier for this offense against the Eagles defense, either.
The Eagles defensive front has accumulated 70 pressures and 23 sacks. The Texans offensive line, on the other hand, has allowed 58 pressures and 16 sacks. Hasson Reddick has been the most dominant player on the Eagles defensive line, with 14 pressures and 5.5 sacks. Reddick, Josh Sweat, Fletcher Cox, and Javon Hargrave are just some of the players on a deep defensive line that are going to get after Mills. They have been getting after quarterbacks and stopping the run extremely well, in addition allowing only 803 on the season.
From the offense to the defense, it will just be too much for the Texans to slow down as the Eagles will stay undefeated with a win on Thursday.