Houston Texans: Three Reasons Why a Playoff Push is Possible

Here are three reasons why the Houston Texans have a chance at the playoffs despite starting 0-2 and last in the AFC South.

Even though I predicted the Houston Texans place 2nd in their division and go 10-6 for 2018 season in my AFC South Standings Prediction, I did not expect them going 0-2 and the offense struggling early in games. They need to have faster starts as early deficits in the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans games limited the Houston Texans in coming back and winning at the end. Other then the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-0), I think they have more talent than the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) and Tennesse (1-1) even though they lost to the Titans last week. I still think they can go 10-6 and potentially contend for a wildcard with some help. They need to beat the 0-2 New York Giants in Houston for Week 3. If they improve on these issues, they should be able to take care of business and get their first win in Houston.

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Their run game with Lamar Miller has been the most consistent part of their offense and could be a key factor moving forward.

As of now, Lamar Miller is 4th in rushing yards with 116 rushing yards on 34 carries and has been the most efficient part of the offense. Miller is averaging 4.9 yards a carry and should eventually put up a touchdown on the stat sheet. He is still utilized in the passing game and is the feature back for the Houston Texans. With D’Onta Foreman still on the P.U.P. list, there are not many options to take carries away from Miller. Alfred Blue and Tyler Ervin are more for depth and get a few carries here and there. The run game with Miller can be even more impactful if the Houston Texans are not down early and have to throw the ball more. The run blocking of the offensive line has been good enough. The problem with the offensive line is protecting Deshaun Watson.

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Deshaun Watson

Their problems offensively lie within the passing game, starting with the offensive line and protecting Deshaun Watson.

Deshaun Watson has to be more protective of the football. He has thrown 2 interceptions and coughed up the football twice in 2018. That said, he has very little time to throw the ball as he has been hit the most out of any quarterback in 2018. Watson has the weapons to do it offensively with wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller on the outside but just needs the time to throw it to them. He has thrown 3 touchdowns with a 59.1% pass completion (486 passing yards and an 84.5 quarterback rating) and is still a threat running the ball, rushing for 84 yards the last two weeks (coming off a torn ACL last year). In general, Watson is playing too risky and is doing too much as he needs to be in a rhythm early in the game to get the offense going.

Granted, the Houston Texans replaced and have new starters on the offensive line for most of their positions this year.

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Seantrel Henderson is on injured reserve with a broken ankle so they moved Julie’n Davenport to right tackle. Rookie left tackle Martinas Rankin is now starting with Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete starting at the guard positions. Nick Martin at the center spot is the only returning starter from 2017. The rest are new additions from the 2018 offseason or switching to the other side of the offensive line (Davenport). Their offensive line was weak in 2017 but I think they are a slight upgrade once they reduce the penalties and are on the same page.

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They still have the talent on defense to force turnovers and should be a problem for opposing offenses once they all mesh together.

Their defense has struggled so far, especially with sacks and turnovers. Defensive tackle D.J. Reader is their sack leader with 2 sacks and their interception leader is defensive back Tyrann Mathieu with 1 pick so far. They still have their stars on defense with J.J. Watt, Tyrann Mathieu, Jonathan Joseph, Jadeveon Clowney (when healthy), Kareem Jackson, and their young inside linebackers (Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney). That said; the pass rushers (Watt, Mercilus, Clowney) need to step up and provide pressure to help out their secondary.

Talent wise, their pass rush is the strength of their defense but so far, it has not gone that way in 2018 and needs they to ramp up the pressure have their pass rushers to do their part.

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The loss of cornerback Kevin Johnson to injured reserve with a concussion does not help but Kayvon Webster and Aaron Colvin should be fine in replacing him. Outside linebacker Jadaveon Clowney needs to get back on the field as he missed last week with a back injury. Without him, Whitney Mercilus has to fill his role and rookie Duke Ejiofor is the other outside linebacker for now. Ejiofor got his first sack in the first start of his NFL career. With their new secondary pieces gelling together slowly, I think they still have a good enough defense if their star players step up and stay healthy and just need a break with their offensive woes.

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