From red zone to third down there's plenty of similarities in the two teams

Texans and Raiders not too different ahead of Sunday showdown

Texans Deshaun Watson
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Friday Stoots Six-Pack gets you ready for the Sunday afternoon game against the Raiders.

Raiders reject to Texans key player

The Raiders decided to dump the former first-round pick to get "younger" according to Jon Gruden.

The Raiders have decided to recently move on from top picks Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack so I expect the Texans to get more than enough value out of Conley to validate the use of the third-round pick to get him.

Bill O'Brien mentioned the 2017 draft process let them know a lot about Conley and you can definitely see the Texans moving towards the type of cornerback they see themselves needing in the current NFL.

As Conley said above, he's a man corner. Lonnie Johnson said he loves to play press man when he was drafted. Bradley Roby can play man with the best of the Texans defensive backs. They still have some zone plays, but they want to get nasty with the wideouts they will see.

I am excited about Conley. I liked his game coming out of Ohio State and the Buckeyes have had plenty of solid defensive backs in recent years. He doesn't have to be a star, just be reliable.

Red zone woes for both teams

In the last three weeks, the Raiders and the Texans are the two worst teams in red zone defense. Only Miami is worse than both teams when considering the whole season. This could be pretty interesting on Sunday. The team that can get a stop in the red zone might win.

The Texans had the best red zone offense in the NFL ahead of last week's game but struggled to showcase that effectiveness against the Colts dropping to fourth in the NFL after settling for a field goal

Last week Derek Carr fumbled trying to do too much on the goal line. He also threw an interception and the team turned it over on downs trying to punch it in. The Raiders will leave points out there so if the Texans can keep the pressure on them they could overwhelm them.

Thrillers on third down

Oakland converts 50 percent of their third downs. The Texans convert about 49 percent. They are two of the top four teams in the NFL.

Oakland sets themselves up with a solid rushing attack. They don't face a lot of third and long situations via their ability to stay on schedule with their offense. On the rare occasions they face third and long Derek Carr isn't afraid to try to make a big play. Last week he hit Keelan Doss for a big play on 3rd and 11.

Houston gets there by staying on schedule but they also have a dynamic quarterback that can cover up some of their issues when they don't succeed on first and second down.

With both of these defenses struggling and the offenses succeeding the way they have been long drives and points might shorten this game up for both sides. Extended drives would do wonders for loosing up each team's defense late.

Raiders can't make Texans make a mistake

The Raiders have forced 5 turnovers all season. They can not turn teams over. They recovered two fumbles and caught two Chase Daniel interceptions. The other was a Jacoby Brissett interception.

That's it.

Not to say the Texans are amazing, they have just 10 turnovers, but the Raiders lack the talent needed to turn teams over. Meaning, they only feast on other team's mistakes.

If the Texans play a clean game and could get Oakland to make a rare mistake, they don't turn the ball over much themselves, it would go a long way in making sure they get a win.

Josh Jacobs can ball

The Raiders rookie running back is eighth in the NFL in rushing after just six games with Oakland. Five of the seven players in front of him have all played at least seven games.

He is banged up right now, but said this week he didn't have to practice to play on Sunday. If he can't go, the Raiders are nowhere near as dangerous or effective on the ground. If they can't run on the ground, Carr will have to take more chances and they don't have the talent to stick around in a shootout.

In addition to Jacobs, the Raiders are banged up from center to right tackle. Wideout Tyrell Williams might make a return though so that will be the best weapon on the outside the Raiders have had since he was hurt.

Tearing down the Waller

​The best weapon in the Raiders passing attack is tight end Darren Waller. He has an incredible story and earlier this month got a new contract to stick around with the Raiders. Easy guy to root for on any given day.

Waller has the sixth most catches without a drop this season. He's 16th in receiving yards which is third among tight ends. He only has a couple of scores, but he can get the Raiders in position.

With the success Eric Ebron had last week, Waller could be a problem. A healthy Tashaun Gipson would go a long way in slowing down the big tight end weapon. He, unfortunately, isn't healthy yet. So slowing down Waller could be tough.

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The Texans host the Jags this Sunday. Composite Getty Image.
  • In a week that is in large part about being thankful for the good things we are fortunate to have in life, Texans’ fans can have an extra helping of glee. After three years of enduring an absolute turkey of a franchise, it is certainly a football blessing to have the Texans gobble up three straight wins to get to 6-4 and make it a legitimately big game Sunday versus 7-3 Jacksonville at NRG Stadium.

Should the Texans beat the Jaguars for a second time, they sweep the season series and take over first place in the AFC South. Raise your hands if back in early September you had this as a likely scenario. Hands down liars! With six more games to play after Sunday it’s not as if the Texans clinch the division with a win, but it clearly positions them to take the division and go from last to first as the Jaguars did from 2021 to last season. Among the Texans’ final six games, only Cleveland is an opponent currently with a winning record. The Broncos have won four in a row to enter the wild card race at 5-5, but that game is in Houston. Then the Texans play at the offensively impotent Jets and the dead in the water Titans. The Deshaun Watson-less Browns are here Christmas Eve before the Texans get their second game with the Titans, ahead of the season finale at the presently 5-5 Colts. That is a very favorable schedule. With a win over the Jags Sunday, the Texans finishing 11-6 becomes very plausible. That would force the Jaguars to win five of their final six games, which include playing at Cleveland and a home date vs. the Ravens. Jacksonville’s other four games project as wins: home games vs. the no-Joe Burrow Bengals and the horrible Panthers, road games at Tampa Bay and Tennessee.

On the flip side, if the Jaguars come here and win Sunday, they come relatively close to putting away the division. The Jags’ would leave with a two game lead, and a split with the Texans would give the Jacksonville the tiebreaker via better divisional record, unless they somehow lose at Tennessee in their season finale.

Beating the Jags again doesn’t figure to be as easy as it turned out to be for the Texans in Florida back in September. The Texans won 37-17 despite being outgained 404 yards to 366. After getting out to a 17-0 lead, the Texans saw Jacksonville draw within 17-10 with 4:35 to go in the third quarter. Then Andrew Beck shockingly rumbled 85 yards for a touchdown on a kickoff return. Thereafter the outcome was never in doubt. The Texans were turnover-free in the game, the Jaguars coughed it up twice. With C.J. Stroud coming off of a three interceptions game you know taking care of the ball is a point of re-emphasis this week.

The Jaguars are a perfect 4-0 on the road, one of the road games being a road trip not a true road game. They beat the Buffalo Bills in London.

If C.J Stroud opted to take the rest of the season off, he’d still have the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award just about sewn up. Fellow freshman Texan Tank Dell is in the hunt for runner-up. The dynamic 165 pound former Houston Cougar has six touchdown catches. That equals the rookie TD haul total of Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins combined. Johnson had four TD grabs as a rookie in 2003, Hopkins just two as a rook in 2013. Dell is on pace for 10 touchdown catches. The schedule being 17 games now impacts this stuff of course, but Dell missed the Saints game while in concussion protocol. In the Super Bowl era, only nine first year wide receivers have cracked double digits in TD receptions. Randy Moss blew away the field with his epic 17 TD catch rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998. Next with 13 are Ja’Marr Chase two years go with the Bengals and the begoggled John Jefferson with the Chargers in 1978. Odell Beckham and Mike Evans caught 12 apiece as rookies, Mike Williams 11. Calvin Ridley, Daryl Turner, and Sammy White each snared 10. White did it in a 14 game schedule.

Rams rookie fifth round pick Puka Nacua is Dell’s chief competition for rookie wideout of the year. Nacua is on pace for a whopping 117 receptions for more than 1500 yards.

A Thanksgiving-related note/quasi prediction. If the Texans ultimately finish second in the division, here’s a guess that they play at the Arlington Cowboys Turkey Day 2024. The Texans next season will play a game at the NFC East team that finishes in its division this year in the same place the Texans do theirs. The Cowboys are going to be second behind Philadelphia in the NFC East. C.J. Stroud’s arrival means no more zero nationally televised games for the Texans. A Texans-Cowboys holiday tilt makes sense. The Texans have played two Thanksgiving Day games, both at Detroit.

Looking for more Texans coverage?

Texans on Tap is the weekly Texan-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule a first video segment goes up Monday on the SportsMapTexans YouTube channel.

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