The Texans missed their slot receivers badly last week against the Colts. They couldn’t move the ball upfield and they had no secondary options across the middle of the field. Keke Coutee was ruled out for the Colts game with a hamstring injury. DeAndre Carter missed most of the game after taking a big hit in the end zone.
For today’s game against the Jets, Coutee is out once again with a hamstring injury. Zach Fulton and Andre Hal are questionable. DeAndre Carter was a full participant during practice this week and will play.
Houston #Texans WR Keke Coutee will not travel with the team to New York and has been downgraded to OUT for Saturday’s game against the Jets.— Texans PR (@TexansPR) December 14, 2018
Below is the updated game status report for Week 15: pic.twitter.com/W7LcSEAp88
One thing to look for today will be the status of running back D’Onta Foreman. He was activated off the PUP list a few weeks ago but has yet to be activated. Coming off a torn Achilles, the Texans are easing him back into play. Especially with Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue performing relatively well, there’s no reason to rush him back.
UPDATE: Running back D’onta Foreman is inactive
Keys to Victory
As much as Sam Darnold is a pocket passer, he has thrived in the NFL off of broken plays. Arguably Darnold’s best play of the season came on a game-tying touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in week 14. The Texans defensive line does a great job of putting pressure on quarterbacks. Players like J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will need to be wary of Darnold escaping the pocket.
What a play by Sam Darnold pic.twitter.com/aRfkHaTOar— #NobodyDied (@ftbeard_17) December 9, 2018
Darnold may not be incredibly athletic, but the defense may want to consider using a spy. Each of the four linebackers are athletic enough to keep up with Darnold, and the cornerbacks shouldn’t have a problem with the receivers if the front seven can force Darnold to stay in the pocket.
I’ve written about the Texans turnover margin in a few pieces now. Even though repetitive, it’s essential for the Texans. They forced a turnover against the Colts and had a clean game on offense in the loss. it’s even more important today though.
The Jets have thrown for 19 interceptions this season. The opportunity is there for the Texans to get good field position through takeaways. After last week’s poor showing against the Colts, the Texans would feed off of some early scores against the Jets defense.
As mentioned prior, the offense struggled without a slot receiver last week. It will be important to spread the ball early in the game. DeAndre Carter will be an integral part of the game today. DeAndre Hopkins was also relatively shut down last week with less than 50 yards. He did score, but he was quiet for most of the game.
Getting the ball spread out around the offense will be an important part of the game today. Jamal Adams has been very good in his young career. He has 12 passes defended in 13 games this season. He’ll be a difference maker in today’s game, dependent on how much of an impact he can make in the passing game.
Possible Playoff Matchups
Second Place AFC West
The Los Angeles Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs this Thursday in a fourth-quarter comeback. With that, they tied the Chiefs atop the AFC and the AFC West. The Chiefs hold the tiebreaker but if the Chargers win out, and the Chiefs lose another game, Kansas City will fall to the five seed. With a hefty lead on the sixth-seeded team, the second place team in the AFC West has all but secured the five seed.
The Texans are in a comfortable position to finish with the three seed in the AFC, but in a complete turn of events, they can mathematically fall to the four seed. In that situation, they will draw either the Chargers or the Chiefs in the wild card matchup.
Second Place AFC South
With the Texans likely finishing with three seed, the likelihood of them drawing the second place team from the AFC South in strong. The Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts are all 7-6. They hold a four-way tie for the last spot in the AFC Playoffs.
The Miami Dolphins may be the most unsustainable of these teams, but they do close out the season with two possible wins against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills. Talent-wise, the Colts and Titans are better than the Dolphins, but they need a loss from the Ravens in order to slip into the wild-card spot.
The Baltimore Ravens control their own destiny. Tied in record, the Ravens hold the tiebreaker to make the playoffs. They have the Chargers on
The Ravens defense is top notch and they can compete with any offense in the league, but a tough schedule has them fighting to make the playoffs. If they do meet the Texans in the playoffs, it may be the toughest matchup. Two of the best defenses in the NFL going head to head would make for a great matchup for football lovers.
First Round Bye
Even with a loss last week, the Texans are very much in play for a wild-card bye. The Texans and Patriots are tied in record at 9-4, but the Patriots hold the tiebreaker. The Patriots will take on the Steelers tomorrow in Pittsburgh. A New England loss paired with a win today against the Jets will see the Texans move up a spot.
In that case, the Texans would still need to close out the season, but they would have the opportunity to claim a wild-card bye. If they do get the bye, the Texans’ opponent won’t be decided until the week before. Regardless, the Texans best scenario is to keep winning. Keep other matchups off their mind, and control your own destiny.