Team: Houston Texans
2017 Record: 4-12 (t-3rd, AFC South)
2018 Record: 6-3 (1st, AFC South)
Outlook: The Texans’ 2017 season came down to a torn ACL suffered at practice by rookie superstar DeShaun Watson. Houston scored 33, 57, 34, 33, and 38 points, respectively, in Watson’s last five pre-injury starts. Although the Texans haven’t hit those offensive heights again thus far, Watson (100.8 passer rating) has played well overall this year.
All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins gives Watson a dominant target, and the Texans compensated for injuries to Will Fuller and Keke Coutee by trading for Demaryius Thomas. Lamar Miller is a serviceable running back, but the passing game is where the Texans shine.
The Texans have bounced back from three close losses to win six straight and claim first place in the AFC South. Their formidable defense is probably the biggest reason why. Multi-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt lost most of his season to injury in 2017, but Jadeveon Clowney continued his ascension into the elite tier of NFL defenders, making his second straight Pro Bowl and recording a career-high 9.5 sacks. This year, the duo has already combined for 14.5 sacks.
Houston has allowed just 110 points during this six-game winning streak. Opponents have scored more than 17 points against the Texans only once in October and November. For the year, the Texans are #7 in scoring defense. Houston’s previous ball-security issues have also seemingly subsided, as the Texans haven’t turned the ball over at all in their past three games. The Redskins will need to change that to have a realistic shot to win on Sunday.
Despite the 4-12 record in ‘17, Bill O’Brien was never in significant danger of losing his job. The assumption was that this would have been a much different team if what were arguably its best offensive and best defensive players had not gotten hurt. With Watson and Watt both back this year, the Texans have moved into the upper echelon of the AFC after a rocky start.
How Worried Should We Be?: Very worried. The Texans have not only won six in a row, but they’re also coming off of a bye. The Redskins gutted out an impressive, inspiring win against the Bucs last week that saw Tampa Bay become the first team in recorded NFL history to score only three points while amassing over 500 yards of offense. Forcing three or four critical turnovers a second straight game is unrealistic, so Washington will either need to step up and match Houston’s explosive offense—or hold it in check.
The latter might be more doable, as a makeshift (but hard-working) offensive line trying to keep Watt and Clowney off of Alex Smith could make for a long afternoon. Hopefully, Josh Norman’s (fair) assessment of the FedEx home crowd will be accepted as a challenge by Redskins fans to give Washington the boost it needs in a battle of division leaders. If Washington can get this win and be 7-3 going into a quick turnaround game against Dallas on Thanksgiving, the NFC East title will legitimately be within reach over the subsequent two-and-a-half weeks.
How worried should the Redskins be about the Texans?
This poll is closed
Not too worried