It is hard to get a true handle on what this Houston Texans team is supposed to be for the rest of the season. After winning their second game of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars just a week earlier, Houston had a lackluster performance against the Cleveland Browns. They dropped their seventh game this season losing to the Browns by a score of 10-7.
Now they must face a team who seems to be gaining their identity and some momentum in the AFC with the New England Patriots set to come into town having won their last two games. They got a huge confidence builder by defeating the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, a team that were pre-season favorites to face the reigning Super Bowl Champs Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.
Their resurgence has a lot to do with the play of former NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton who is adapting to the “Patriots Way” here lately and putting together some very good games. He ranks second among quarterbacks and tied for third overall in the NFL with nine rushing touchdowns. That alone gives Texans interim head coach Romeo Crennel reasons to have some concerns about stopping Newton from having a big day on Sunday at NRG.
“It’s difficult because he is a big man and he can run and he doesn’t mind running, particularly as you get him into the red zone, he’ll pull it down,” said Crennel. “Then, if he can’t find a receiver, he’ll pull it down. Here again, and I know I talk about discipline a lot, but you have to be disciplined in your rush lanes.”
Stopping the run in general has been a huge problem for the Texans this season as they have given up over 1500 yards rushing in the nine games they have played, including a combined 231 yards to Cleveland in a game where the weather conditions were bad and forced the ball out of Browns QB Baker Mayfield’s hands.
In order for Houston to stay competitive at home this Sunday and potentially upset New England, they must call up on their own version of “Superman” (Patriots QB Cam Newton is referred to by that name from his time with the Carolina Panthers) in superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson. He has been the only bright spot for the Texans offense that seems to be struggling with consistency issues. Watson is completing over 68.1% of his passes on the season to go along with 18 touchdowns and he has not thrown an interception in over a month.
“You have a very athletic and mobile quarterback that can run, but he (Watson) really creates more problems when he extends plays and gives these receivers a chance to get open,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Let’s hope that Watson’s creativity can lead the Texans to their third victory of the season at NRG this Sunday.