Are the Texans Due for an Upset?

When you are one of two unbeaten teams there is only one thing that most people will be looking for you to do—lose.

At the start of last Monday night’s game with the New York Jets the Texans looked primed and ready for a blowout of epic proportions. They score with ease, the defense easily shut down the woeful Jets offense; fans could smell the blood in the water.

Instead, the Jets appeared to give the Texans a pretty good game even though Houston still came away with a 23-17 win. Now it appears that the close game over the Jets and the loss of linebacker Brian Cushing have many thinking that the team is in a position to be upset by the Green Bay Packers Sunday night.

Cushing is a big loss to the team. Whenever you lose a player of his caliber you can’t replace him; you learn to live without him instead. That and the close game with the Jets have many thinking that the Packers will beat the Texans.

In Cushing the team loses a former Defensive Rookie of the Year, its leading tackler, and a natural born leader. As good as he is, he is not the only playmaker on that side of the ball.

J.J. Watt is setting himself up to be a potential MVP candidate with 7.5 sacks, 26 tackles (second on the team to Cushing’s 29), and eight pass deflections. Jonathan Joseph is one of the best cover corners in the game, and the Dallas Cowboys must be sorry that they don’t have Bradie James anymore.

The list of playmakers could go on and on, but when it comes down to it the statistics get the point across pretty well. Houston has the No. 3 defense in the league allowing only 275 yards a game and just over 14 points. Teams are averaging just 190 yards passing (3rd) and 85 on the ground (9th).

Brian Cushing isn’t responsible for all of that.

What people fail to see in the New York Jets is that they still have a top five pass defense even though Darrelle Revis is not in the line-up. They’ve averaged giving up about 200 yards a game; right about what Schaub had Monday night.

Trying to force the pass against a team like the Jets would be a mistake. Trying to run on them (and their 31st ranked run defense) is not, hence the big night that Arian Foster had.

When you run a lot the score doesn’t reflect the control that a team has over the game. Had Joe McKnight not returned a kick for a touchdown the score would not have been nearly as close.

It wasn’t complacency that led to a close game against the Jets. It was Houston taking what was given to them, and the Jets playing a decent game for a change.

Against the Packers the Texans will look to do what the Colts did as well as what the Seahawks and 49ers did earlier this season—pressure Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay’s line has been unable to protect Rodgers and without the threat of a running game (which will hurt even more now that Cedric Benson is out) defenses will go after Rodgers even harder.

Add on the fact that Rodgers will be missing his best target in Greg Jennings, and Green Bay really has a challenge in front of them.

Green Bay is a talented team, and many expect them to come out hard against the Texans. If they don’t and end up losing they will have their backs against the wall with five losses this early in the season.

The Packers have been at the top of the league for the last few years, and barring injuries they might be this year as well. It just might be time for a change in the pecking order in the NFL.

It might be Houston’s time to be on top.
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