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Browns come to Houston loaded with talent

Baker Mayfield is on a roll. John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Texans are the owners of the NFL's longest win streak and the Browns pose a legitimate threat to end it. What a weird sentence to say one year ago. 

1. The Texans have their hands full with the hottest rushing attack in football. Nick Chubb has the second most yards rushing the past four weeks and he's only played three games in that time. He has five total touchdowns. He's a monster. He's 15th in the league in rushing despite 16 total carries in his first 6 games. It's incredible the flashes he's shown early. Baker Mayfield knows what he brings to the table. 

"You talk about the run game being able to open up our throwing lanes and play action," Mayfield said. "He's been a huge help to that because teams have to swarm to the ball when he has it. He's not going to go down by just one guy tackling him. He's gonna break tackles. He's gonna have extra yardage after that first contact."

If they're going to slow down Chubb it will be incumbent on Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney and linebacker and Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt not overplaying some of the rushing downs. 

2. Baker Mayfield has been remarkably efficient in the Browns past two wins. He completed 85 percent and 73.1 percent of his passes and has thrown seven touchdowns. With the rushing attack, Mayfield hasn't had to put up big yardage numbers. He hasn't thrown an interception since trying to lead a huge comeback against the Chiefs. Efficient quarterbacks can hurt the Texans a lot so there is some concern Mayfield could get going and never look back. 

3. The Browns haven't allowed a sack in 125 snaps which is the longest current streak in the NFL. The Texans are sixth in sacks with 34 as a team. J.J. Watt has got hot and stayed hot with at least a sack in four straight games. Jadeveon Clowney has gotten to the quarterback in three straight. With Whitney Mercilus and Christian Covington getting going against the Titans the Browns sack streak should come to an end on Sunday.

4. The Steelers and the Chargers are the Sunday Night Football game. This means J.J. Watt's brothers Derek Watt, a Chargers fullback, and T.J. Watt, a Steelers linebacker, will face off. It will be the first time in Watt family history Derek has played against a brother. They, of course, can make contact with each other playing on opposite sides of the ball. 

"I haven't figured out yet what I'm cheering for or supposed to be looking for," J.J. Watt said. "Now they're on both sides. They're going against each other. I hope T.J. gets a couple sacks. I hope Derek gets a touchdown or a carry has some great blocks. I hope the game, I dunno, ends in a tie, I guess that's the best thing for everybody. It's probably good for us too."

He said he would be "talking a lot of (trash)" in the group text with his brothers. Watt isn't wrong about rooting for a tie either. A tie is as good as a loss for catching the Steelers in the AFC, but it doesn't help a ton in pushing the Chargers down the AFC standings. 

5. The Cowboys pulled off one of the most impressive wins of the season last night against the Saints. Their defense was on fire led by stud linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Professional football in Texas is LOADED at linebacker with the Cowboys crew and the Texans having Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham, and Dylan Cole (hopefully fully healthy soon). Dallas slowed the Saints offense as nobody else has come close to doing this season. Nothing seemed to work for New Orleans and the Dallas offense did just enough. If they ever started clicking on offense they'd be a viable Super Bowl contender in the NFC. 

6. Patrick Mahomes can retake the lead as potential NFL MVP on Sunday. Mahomes was the darling early but Drew Brees caught up as the Saints got hot. With their cooling off last night, it is a huge opportunity for Mahomes to earn back some favor with the voters. He just so happens to be facing the lowly Raiders in Oakland. Kansas City is at least a 14 point favorite or more. With Oakland struggling, and the Chiefs coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Rams, it seems like a terrible matchup for the Raiders and a good chance for "Showtime" to show his MVP stuff.

Plus the head coach and general manager weighed in on Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil's futures

O'Brien's commitment to familiarity could be defining moment of his power

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

What we learned from Bill O'Brien's first public discussion since he was officially named the coach and general manager.

Tim Kelly is the new play caller for the Texans offense

Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has been with Bill O'Brien since he took over as the head coach at Penn State. Kelly followed to the NFL when O'Brien took over the Texans and before last season Kelly was named the team's offensive coordinator.

Now, for just the second time as head coach, O'Brien is handing over the play calling duties. The last time O'Brien did this was when George Godsey was promoted to offensive coordinator and the offense regressed with Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Godsey would lose those duties and ultimately his job after the 2016 season.

This is one of the few changes to an offense that took a step back from 2018 last season. The defense was overhauled, as it should have been (more on them next), but little to no change occurred on the offense until Kelly took the headset. It would have been difficult to expect more from the offense in 2020 if nothing had changed but I believe this could be a significant change for the good.

Kelly has clearly been groomed for this position. He's stuck around as O'Brien hoarded the headset for himself when previous members of the offensive staff, like former Texans coach Sean Ryan, couldn't wait for the time O'Brien would relinquish duties. He's coached all over the offense. He's helped in implementing the offense. When he was, to me at least, clearly calling plays in the second preseason game of 2019 the Texans opened the game with a touchdown. Same in the fourth preseason game. The Texans didn't replicate that feat until week 17.

This also adds pressure to O'Brien's resume of clearly his decisions. If this backfires consider it one of the biggest failures in O'Brien's tenure. He heavily relies on people he knows and has worked with. He rarely goes outside with someone he hasn't coached with before. If Kelly isn't good, and O'Brien has to divide his attention again, consider that a strike against O'Brien.

Inside shot caller on defense too with Anthony Weaver 

With the extreme failure of the Texans defense last season, regardless of their level of talent, it was certainly time for Romeo Crennel to move on. The curious decision was, again, an internal promotion. This time defensive line coach Anthony Weaver was handed the keys to the defense.

O'Brien had high praise for Weaver and the various defensive coordinators he had worked under as a coach and player. He claimed Weaver would have his own style and he's been picking Weaver's brain about what he would do as the head man on defense for a while.

The last time O'Brien experimented with an in-house promotion for the defense was when Mike Vrabel took over in 2017 and the defense finished rated 32nd in points allowed. Despite the defensive failures, Vrabel was rewarded with a head coaching opportunity. Romeo Crennel took back over and the defense got back on track for a year before it went sideways again in 2019.

It would have made a lot of sense to go outside the organization here, but O'Brien again relied on someone he has been priming for this position it would seem. It also, like the offensive decision above, is a line on his resume. It would also be a strike on his resume if it doesn't work out.

Think of a scenario where the defense stays bad and the offense regresses again. That would be a horrible look for O'Brien the decision maker and bad for the results in 2020. But, I do like the youth movement from O'Brien. Weaver will turn 40 this year, and Kelly is in his mid-30's. The last time O'Brien tried both of these moves, it didn't work. If these two hit, O'Brien will look like a genius.

The new contract expert

This is notable as Chris Olsen has rarely made a mistake as the contract and cap expert for the Texans in his time there. His assistant will have his job now, but I can't buy O'Brien not knowing why the change was made.

If indeed this is Jack Easterby's area, he is the team's Executive Vice President of Football Operations, O'Brien brought him into the organization and it wouldn't make sense he is on equal footing as O'Brien. Whatever the reason for Olsen leaving, Krajcovic will have a tough act to follow. Speaking of contract work...

Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil could break the bank

Dehsaun Watson has technically two years left on his deal, with the fourth year of the contract and the fifth-year rookie option. Laremy Tunsil is currently slated for a big raise as his fifth-year rookie option has kicked in.

For Tunsil, his price has to be extremely high. Taylor Lewan and Lane Johnson have two of the largest and best deals at the tackle position. Tunsil has significant advantages over both of those in the negotiation process. He is better than Lewan, younger, and plays left tackle unlike Johnson who plays right tackle. The Texans also moved a huge amount of draft assets to get the left tackle. Most elite player don't play on the fifth-year option. Tunsil shouldn't and likely won't.

Deshaun Watson's contract could be heavily contingent on what Patrick Mahomes gets in his new deal. The Eagles and the Rams really upset the way of doing business when they paid Carson Wentz and Jared Goff a year before first round quarterbacks traditionally get paid. Both Watson and Mahomes should be seeking new deals, and it could be a standoff between the two to see who signs first. They each have been far better than Goff and Wentz and should be paid better than both.

O'Brien thumbs up on XFL

O'Brien mentioned the kickoff rule as one he liked. The NFL has to adopt that rule. It is the best way to do kickoffs.

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