Scott Barzilla of Battle Red Blog was nice enough to answer five questions about his Houston Texans for us ahead of Saturday’s game. Be sure to head over to BRB to see his questions about the Tennessee Titans with my answers.
1. The Texans have been in games late with good teams the last two weeks? What have they been doing well?
The Texans have done a better job of taking advantage of mistakes. They’ve created turnovers and have converted those into touchdowns. They scored 14 points off three Cowboys turnovers and converted two KC turnovers into points. It is hard to believe but the Texans are roughly equal in turnover differential which seems bizarre for a one win team. They are 1-5-1 in one score games this season. Pep Hamilton’s offense has been more imaginative the past two weeks as well. He and Smith are coaching for their lives right now and it shows.
2. Derrick Henry ran all over this defense last time. Has anything changed to make them better equipped to stop him this time?
Henry has gained 200 or more yards each time he’s gone up against the Texans since 2020. I don’t know if he gets there this time but it won’t be because of anything the Texans do. The Chiefs gained more than 180 and they aren’t even a running team. Christian Harris (our rookie linebacker) seems to have hit his stride, but our defensive tackles are not equipped to take on extra blockers or keep linemen from reaching the second level. I’d bet the farm on the Titans gaining more than 200 yards as a team even if it isn’t Henry doing all of it. The weather forecast has some cooler temperatures (5 degrees at game time) coming, so I imagine both teams will try to run it more.
3. If the Texans get the first pick in the draft, will they take a QB? Which guy do you prefer?
Goodness knows what they will do, but the odds are good that they will select a quarterback. Bryce Young would be my pick. He’s put up great numbers against SEC competition and did it this year without great players around him. He’s got great leadership skills, is very studious, and very good athleticism. They say he has more arm talent than any of the other QB prospects, but I can’t say for sure. The only knock on him is his size, but he is a throw first quarterback, so he should be okay on the next level. There are never any guarantees but he feels like the best chance we have to get a franchise quarterback.
4. How many core players do the Texans currently have on their roster?
I think they have quite a few rotation guys on both side of the ball, but if you mean solid starters or all-pro guys I’d say they have Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, and Dameon Pierce on offense (though he’s out). I’m hoping Nico Collins develops into a good second receiver. Kenyon Green had talent and the pedigree to be a good guard, but he hasn’t shown that yet. We are hoping that Harris, Jalen Pitre, and Derek Stingley, and maybe Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on the defensive end. They have a lot of solid football players on both side but no real difference makers yet.
5. The line moved from Titans -7 to Titans -5 with the news that Ryan Tannehill may not play*. Which side of that bet are you taking?
I would have taken the Texans at seven, but can’t do it with the line at five. We are good at the back door cover but even in the last two games they’ve finished around there. If I wanted to make easy money I’d bet the farm on Derrick Henry getting over 100 or even 150 yards. I think it will be a close game due to the weather but the Texans don’t have the running game without Pierce in the backfield. I think something like 20-14 Titans seems right.
*This was sent before the report that Ryan Tannehill is likely out for the year. The line has moved to Titans -3 as of this post.