I don't know what the Texans were doing on their bye week. It indeed was not practicing football. Somehow behind an ugly offensive performance, committing three turnovers, the Texans found a way to eke out their seventh straight win. Houston's winning streak matches the 1925 Giants for most consecutive wins, following a 0-3 start.
As we all get prepared to give thanks while stuffing our faces Thursday, the Texans should be thankful to be where they are now. While Houston did some good things offensively, there were also some negatives which Houston needs to get fixed. Starting with the turnovers, quarterback Deshaun Watson threw two interceptions, and DeAndre Hopkins lost a fumble in the third quarter. Per replay, the refs got Hopkins fumble wrong as Hopkins did not appear to have full control of the ball before Washington recovering the ball.
As for Watson, following playing three straight clean games came to an end, as he threw two interceptions as well as a fumble which the Texans luckily recovered. Watson was again kept clean despite injuries to Zach Fulton, and Senio Kelemete. Deshaun was sacked only three times on four quarterback hits. The offensive line continues to make strides, not only protecting Watson but also in the run game. Houston as a team had 139 yards on the ground, to a tune of 4.5 yards per rush. Both Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue bounced back from duds against Denver. Miller went for 86 yards on 20 carries, while Blue registered 46 yards, on eight carries.
Outside of allowing Adrian Peterson to stroll into the end zone twice, along with allowing Colt McCoy who had not seen game action in two years to go 6/12 for 54 yards, the Texans defense played great*. Overall the defense was as reliable as they have been all season, they got stops when they needed, including a huge 101-yard pick 6, by my opinion defensive rookie of the year Justin Reid.
The Texans did a good job getting after the quarterback, registering five sacks on eight quarterback hits. Houston picked off Alex Smith twice, before Smith leaving the game with a gruesome leg injury to which I wish him a speedy recovery. Colt McCoy played well in relief for a guy, who had not seen any game action in two years completing 50 percent of his passes, as well as rushing for 35 yards.
The Road Ahead
For the Texans a Monday night tilt with division rival Tennessee, looms at NRG stadium. The Titans were clubbed 38-10 by the Colts as the Titans dropped to 2-4 on the road this year. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked eight times, leaving the game with an elbow injury. Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees was taken to the hospital, due to a medical issue though head coach Mike Vrabel said Pees is doing good. In regards to the Colts much like Deshaun Watson, quarterback Andrew Luck appears to be very much himself again guiding Indianapolis to their fourth straight win.
While the Colts keep themselves in striking distance from Houston in the division, the Titans will travel to NRG looking to prove they are still in this race. Having already been beat by the Titans back in Week 2, Monday's game is just as huge for the Texans as a win pushes Houston closer to winning the division, as well as one of the top 2 seeds in the AFC.
For Houston to pull out the win, they must play a clean game. Offensively Houston needs to integrate everyone to keep Tennessee's defense off balance, most importantly do not settle field goals. The Titans entered the day averaging only 19 points a game offensively, having only scored 30 points once all season. If the Texans offensively can put the Titans behind the scoreboard early, force the Titans to beat them through the air, I like the Texans chances of winning.
Washington has a quarterback problem on their hands, following Alex Smith's injury. As meh of a division the NFC East, the Redskins have the upper hand with a 2-0 division record and 6-2 conference record. Washington has three straight games inside their division; if they win all three, they are essentially the winner. Where they go at quarterback following Smith's injury, however, remains to be determined.
Following the bye, I was expecting a little more from the Texans. Instead Houston I saw the same team I saw before the bye, a team with still has plenty to work on. The defense has been Houston's most consistent unit, what will make the Texans more dangerous come January is if the Texans offense can pack a more consistent punch. Meaning, relying less on Fairbairn's leg, and score more touchdowns.