The Houston Texans saw the reality of what life will be like without Deshaun Watson last week and it was not pretty. Tom Savage simply is not capable of carrying the offense to victory. Even though the Texans had a chance to win on the final play, the fact that the offense struggled moving the ball against the lackluster Colts defense is an issue. This week they travel to take on the Los Angeles Rams. As a team the Rams are better in just about every facet of the game which does not bode well for the Texans.
The Rams offense leans on their impressive running attack, averaging 131.9 yards per game which is 10th in the league. Their 10 rushing touchdowns on the season is tied for second, just one behind the Dallas Cowboys. Todd Gurley is the workhorse for Los Angeles and is having a fantastic rebound season in 2017. Gurley ranks fourth in rushing yards (686), first in rushing touchdowns (7) and seventh in yards per game (85.8). Los Angeles should hand it off to Gurley often in Sunday’s contest.
Speaking of rebound campaigns, quarterback Jared Goff is having quite the season. Completing 60.2 percent of his passes, averaging 253.8 passing yards per game and throwing for 13 touchdowns compared to four interceptions. Goff will move the ball effectively and with ease against the injury plagued Texans defense. Without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, Goff will not see pressure for the majority of the game. This will force the secondary to cover for longer and eventually a receiver will be open to make a catch. This has happened time and time again ever since the injuries to Watt and Mercilus.
Defensively the Rams are allowing 205.4 passing yards per game which is the 10th-fewest in the NFL. This does not appear to favor the Texans with Savage under center. Savage does not possess the ability to be efficient in the passing game and facing a tough passing defense from Los Angeles will only make his job more difficult.
Part of why the Rams pass defense is so effective is their pass rush. Their 25 sacks on the season is sixth-most in the league. This is a problem. Duane Brown is no longer on the team. Brown would be a good asset for the Texans to have while facing an intimidating pass rush. Houston found a way to make this not an issue with Deshaun Watson during Brown’s holdout, but unfortunately Watson will not be suiting up Sunday. Without Brown in Week 1, Savage was sacked six times in his limited time on the field. It could be a disastrous repeat of Week 1’s performance if Houston is not careful.
Los Angeles’ rushing defense is a different story. The 121.6 rushing yards per game allowed is the seventh-most in the league. This is where the Texans need to focus their attack offensively. There are two more than capable backs on the roster who should have their way against a rushing defense that has struggled this season. Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman should expect to see the ball handed it off to them early and often Sunday. This is Houston’s only shot at winning.
It will not be easy for the Texans to come out victorious this week. Los Angeles is in a completely different class than the Indianapolis team that Houston lost to last week. The only chance at winning this week is to keep the ball out of the hands of Tom Savage. The only problem is their defense might not put them into a position where they have to play catch up. If that is what happens on Sunday, a loss is all but inevitable.
Follow James Mastrucci on Twitter @Jimmmitude