Eagles-Texans predictions: Our beat writers make their picks for Week 9
The Eagles are heavily favored against the Texans even while on the road as they're searching for the first 8-0 start in franchise history.
The Eagles will face the Houston Texans on the road Thursday. Here are the game predictions from our Eagles beat writers for Week 9.
Nothing should be shocking in the NFL, but the 1-5-1 Texans upsetting the 7-0 Eagles would qualify. It isn’t often you see a 14-point road favorite, but Sunday’s blowout of the Steelers and Houston’s listless play suggests that number might not be enough. The Texans rank last in the league, on both sides of the ball, in most noteworthy categories. On offense, quarterback Davis Mills is a likely lame duck holding the spot until next year’s draft. And on defense, head coach Lovie Smith’s scheme has been gashed, especially on the ground, where it has allowed 186 yards a game.
There is some talent in Houston. On offense, rookie running back Dameon Pierce has rushed for 539 yards and is averaging 4.45 yards a carry. Veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks is still a downfield threat. And left tackle Laremy Tunsil has mostly kept Mills’ blindside protected. And on defense, Jerry Hughes (five sacks) is still a defender you circle in preparation. Desmond King is a cornerback you don’t test often. And ex-Eagles cornerback Steven Nelson remains competent in zone coverages. But the team is otherwise rife with holes.
Houston’s best shot on offense is to run out of spread formations against a defense preoccupied with stopping the big play. And on the other side, they have to hope the law of averages as it applies to turnovers finally catches up with quarterback Jalen Hurts and the Eagles.
I’m not betting on it.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Texans 9
For the second time in five days, the Eagles go into a game with the biggest obstacle being complacency.
The Houston Texans are in the infantile stages of a rebuild with very little firepower on an offense built around Mills and a defense devoid of many noteworthy players.
Pierce is a promising rookie running back who could give the Eagles some challenges, especially considering the absence of defensive tackle Jordan Davis. The Eagles defense will either have to use Marlon Tuipulotu as the nose tackle more often in odd fronts or figure out how to be better against the run with four down linemen.
» READ MORE: Eagles' D-line reacts to Jordan Davis’ injury
Either way, it’s hard to imagine the Texans putting up huge point totals. The Eagles secondary has been playing at a high level most of the season and has a track record of producing against inexperienced quarterbacks. If the offense gets out to an early lead, Mills could be prone to a few turnovers.
On the other side, the Eagles offense has proven to be one of the best in the league. The Texans defense, according to Football Outsiders, is third-worst.
Short weeks can sometimes cause volatility, but there’s really no reason to suspect the Eagles trip up in Hurts’ return to his home city. They don’t seem to be the type of team that takes anyone too lightly, which is bad news for a Texans team clearly disadvantaged in several key matchups.
Prediction: Eagles 27, Texans 10
Hurts has risen to the challenge during the team’s two primetime games earlier in the season. Now, Hurts will make his anticipated return to his native Houston on Thursday night. The 24-year-old quarterback has emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate while guiding the Eagles to a 7-0 record.
Last week was arguably one of Hurts’ best performances as a passer. He rushed only a season-low two times, while throwing for 285 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. He’s benefited from playing behind an elite offensive line, but Hurts is also being decisive from the pocket and he’s throwing deep balls with tremendous anticipation and trust with his pass catchers.
The Texans possess one of the most inexperienced linebacker corps in the league, which could bode well if Hurts decides to attack the middle of the field and target tight end Dallas Goedert and wide receiver A.J. Brown. His three touchdowns aside, Brown showed just how explosive he is when he took a basic slant route upfield for a 40-plus yard gain.
Defensively, the Eagles get another opportunity at a suspect quarterback in Mills, who has thrown eight touchdowns and six interceptions. If the defensive front is able to contain the explosive rookie running back Pierce, they’ll force the Texans to be one dimensional in the passing game, which will present opportunities for the secondary’s ballhawks.
Thus far, Hurts’ ability to take care of the football has been impressive. He hasn’t lost a fumble, and he’s thrown only two interceptions. If Hurts continues to prioritize ball security, he’ll have an opportunity to lead the Eagles to 8-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Prediction: Eagles 34, Texans 10
Inquirer Eagles beat reporters EJ Smith and Josh Tolentino preview the team’s Week 9 game against the Houston Texans. Watch at Inquirer.com/EaglesGameday