October 5, 2016
Texans Take Division Lead
by Bob Hulsey
So the Houston Texans had one genuine stinker of a loss in Foxboro. We figured it might happen, and it did. However, the Texans' other three games to start the regular season, all home games, resulted in narrow wins, and they sit atop the AFC South with a 3-1 record whereas the rest of the division is 1-3. Nice.
Brock Osweiler has been more and less as expected. Through four weeks, his QB rating is 74.8, 28th in the NFL, just behind Case Keenum. He's thrown more picks (6) than TDs (5) and averages 237 yards/gm. Rookie Will Fuller has become the favorite target, catching 19 passes for 323 yards, 12th best in the league. Part of that comes from having the world's best decoy in DeAndre Hopkins who has caught 17 balls for 227 yards, drawing the other team's best corner regularly.
Lamar Miller is fourth in the league in rushing with 351 yards, although just a 3.8 yards/carry average. His longest carry thus far is just 15 yards. The offensive line has fought to provide running lanes but are missing their best blocker, left tackle Duane Brown.
Through four games, the Texans' defense is 9th in scoring defense (18.2 pts/gm), 1st in passing defense (162.5 yds/gm) and fifth in total defense (287.8 yds/gm). They'll be without the services of J.J. Watt, however, who had a second back surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Winning the revenge match against Kansas City in Week 2 is what really sets up the quarter pole. Defeating Chicago and Tennessee was rather expected - as was losing to the Patriots - so a 3-1 record should be considered right on schedule.
Speaking of schedules, it gets tougher through October. Road games to 4-0 Minnesota and 4-0 Denver are up next, the latter a personal issue for Osweiler who left Denver when he was expected to be Peyton Manning's heir. Whether Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch starts for the Broncos, people will be checking to see if Osweiler's stats are better than the Plan C replacements Denver has now.
In between is a prime time home duel with the 1-3 but dangerous Indianapolis. On Hallow's Eve, the 1-3 Lions roll into town to finish the first half of the season before the Bye Week takes place. If Houston emerges 5-3, they should still be in good shape, especially if they beat the Colts. However, the Patriot fiasco will remind them that they have a long way to go before being considered anything more than a one-and-done playoff entrant.
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