The Houston Texans travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams this week. This is not an ideal situation for the Texans as they are team that is sliding fast and the Rams are on the upswing. If the Texans truly want to win this game on the road, there are five keys to bring them closer to coming out victorious.
1. Ground and Pound
The Houston Texans rushing attack is currently fourth in the NFL with 132.8 yards per game. Without Deshaun Watson the rushing yardage will certainly dip but Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman must be ready to make up for his absence. Miller and Foreman must be the guys to move the ball down the field to take the pressure off of Tom Savage. If they are not effective, the offense could be in for a long day.
2. Limit Todd Gurley
Easier said than done, but Todd Gurley has returned to being a productive running back. Gurley is seventh in rushing yards per game (85.8) and first in rushing touchdowns (7). Gurley is effective and will be this Sunday against a porous defensive front. Limiting the production from Gurley will be imperative for the Texans to come out victorious.
3. Involve Will Fuller
After an incredible run, Will Fuller finally fell back to earth last week with only two receptions for 32 yards. This was his worst outing of the season. This is due to the absence of Deshaun Watson who has the ability to throw the ball deep and accurate to Fuller down the field. Unfortunately Tom Savage does not possess this ability and it showed during the loss to Indianapolis last week. Savage must find a way to involve Fuller in the passing game to truly give Houston a chance this week.
4. Protect Tom Savage
The Houston Texans lost more than just a quarterback when Deshaun Watson tore his ACL. They lost an offensive scheme that allowed the trade of Duane Brown to be feasible for Houston. Without Watson and Brown, Tom Savage will likely be under pressure a lot. The Rams rank sixth in the NFL in sacks with 25. The Texans offensive line has allowed the third most sacks with 28 and sixth most quarterback hits with 56. This is not a combination that bodes well for Savage or the Texans. To truly give Houston a chance, Savage must be put in a situation where pressure and hits will not come early and often. Unfortunately that is likely to happen all game Sunday.
5. Manufacture Pressure on Jared Goff
It is not a secret that the Houston Texans are missing key players on defense. J.J. Watt and Whitney Mericilus were lost for the year weeks ago and Brian Cushing is still serving a suspension. Without these three key players it will be difficult to pressure Rams quarterback Jared Goff. This is not even considering that the Rams have allowed the second fewest sacks (10) and sixth fewest quarterback hits (34). Pressuring Goff will not be easy and it will take a combined effort from the unit as a whole to achieve this.
The outlook for this game is not good. The Rams are clearly the better team and Texans continue to get hit with the injury bug. Being successful in the aforementioned five areas does not necessarily guarantee the Texans a win. However it will get them closer to rather than further from victory.
Follow James Mastrucci on Twitter @Jimmmitude