The Houston Texans are walking into a potential trap game this week against the winless Cleveland Browns. The Texans do not want to be the team to give the worst team in the league their first win. Houston has to execute these five keys to come out victorious on Sunday.
1. Pressure Kevin Hogan
To the surprise of most, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson named Kevin Hogan the starting quarterback for this game and not rookie DeShone Kizer. Hogan has shined when he has come into games due to injury or poor play. The Texans will be the first team to truly game plan for Hogan. Houston should pressure Hogan constantly and force him into making mistakes that result in turnovers.
2. Involve Ryan Griffin
The Browns defense has struggled covering tight ends all season long and this week should be no exception. Griffin has had moments where he has been able to display his ability to be a playmaker and those moments will come early and often against the Cleveland defense this week.
3. Minimize the Absence of Watt and Mercilus
J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus were lost for the season due to injury last week and this is not good for a Texans defense that has not been up to par. Watt and Mercilus are two of the best pass rushers on the team and their absence will be felt. The Texans defense must do their best to make minimize their absence and still get pressure, mostly from Jadeveon Clowney and Bernardrick McKinney.
4. Keep Myles Garrett Away from Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns rookie defensive end Myles Garrett debuted last week and what a debut. Garrett got his first career sack on his first play and finished the game with two sacks overall. The Texans offensive line has been lackluster this season and this is because Duane Brown is still holding out. If Duane Brown was in the lineup, there would be less to worry about, but Garrett should and will get to Watson this Sunday. It will be up to the coaching staff to do their best to keep Watson from getting pressured and hit by Garrett on Sunday.
5. Smother the Browns Wide Receivers
It has not been a secret this season that the Browns receivers have had issues holding on to the ball this season. There have been many interceptions that have been the result of the ball bouncing off the receivers hands and into the hands of a defender. The Texans defense must keep close to take advantage for when the ball inevitably bounces into the air and is available to be intercepted. Interceptions will happen and in this fashion, the Texans defense must be ready to make a play when it presents itself.
For the Texans to avoid losing to the winless Browns they must pressure Kevin Hogan without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus while smothering the receiver. Offensively they must involve Ryan Griffin and keep Deshaun Watson away from Myles Garrett. As long as they can accomplish these five keys they will come out victorious on Sunday.