The Philly-Houston drama continues Thursday night. The Phillies and Astros are locked in a 2-2 World Series while the 7-0 Eagles play the second-worst team in the NFL. The only football drama might be the margin of the final score.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU’LL LIKE
1. JALEN HURTS
Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky, now an ESPN commentator, said Hurts “has become the best decision-maker in football.”
Hurts continues to rack up numbers, amaze his skeptics and win football games.
The way to lose football games, especially to double-digit underdogs? Make bad decisions and turn over the ball.
Hurts has taken 492 snaps — 97.8 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps. He has committed only two turnovers, both interceptions, and one of those bounced off the receiver’s hands.
We know Hurts’ incredible run-of-ball security isn’t going to last forever. It’s lasting now, though. If he continues to take extreme care of the football, the Eagles will be difficult to defeat.
2. TURNOVER MACHINE
Speaking of turnovers, the Eagles’ defense thrives on them. They have ten interceptions and six fumble recoveries. They have not lost a fumble this season.
They lead the league in turnover differential with plus-14. The Ravens, Cowboys and Vikings are tied for second with plus-six. Last year, the Eagles had 26 takeaways and 26 giveaways.
- Part of getting turnovers is getting to the quarterback. The Eagles have 23 sacks, tied for fifth best in the NFL.
- Texans quarterback Davis Mills has six interceptions in seven games. As a rookie in 2021, he had 10 interceptions in 11 starts.
- Turnovers and sacks are a serious threat to opposing offenses. The target this week is a second-year quarterback on a 1-5-1 team that is averaging 16.5 points per game. Expect the Eagles to capitalize.
The Eagles didn’t make up the schedule. They just play the teams on it.
3. EAGLES WIN
The Eagles are 7-0. No Eagles team has ever been 8-0. The only team with a worse record than Houston is the Lions at 1-6.
By statistical analysis, what you see on the field, and the smell test, this looks like an Eagles victory. It’s reasonable to question how the short week will affect the Eagles, but the Texans are playing under the same short window.
The Eagles rank third in total offense and tied for third in total defense. The Texans are 31st in offense and 30th in defense. J.J. Watt, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster aren’t coming through that door Thursday night.
The Eagles have the sixth-best running attack, and Miles Sanders is the league’s seventh-best rusher. Houston is ranked 32nd against the run. Feels like a pick-your-poison game.
The temptation is to go Eagles big, 38-14, but the Texans’ defense has only allowed 22 points per game.
Temptation wins out. Eagles, 38-14.
3 PREDICTIONS YOU WON’T LIKE
1. DAVIS MILLS
Mills is ranked 21st in passing yards with 1,502, one spot ahead of Carson Wentz.
The Texans have the 25th-ranked passing offense; the Eagles are the fourth-ranked pass defense.
The numbers don’t add up, but Mills is a legitimate NFL quarterback.
If the Texans pull off an upset, Mills will need to play his best game of the season. He’s capable enough to do so.
2. DAMEON PIERCE
Pierce is a rookie running back from Florida, selected in the fourth round.
He has started every game, carrying 121 times for 539 yards, a 4.5 yards per carry average. He has scored three touchdowns.
“Good player, man. I mean, really good player,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said.
“Got a high opinion of him. He jumps off the tape. Typically, I don’t put up a lot of backs in front of the room and say, ‘Hey, guys, this is a challenge ahead.’ He was one of them.
“He’s tough. He has vision. He’s explosive. He breaks tackles. He runs violently.
“Can catch it out of the backfield. They deploy him in a good way. The run schemes that they use, they accentuate his skill set, which is pretty cool, and we’ve got a big-time challenge.”
Pierce has 20 receptions for 98 yards, a mediocre 4.9 yards per catch.
The Texans have the 26th-ranked running attack and they will face the Eagles’ 15th-ranked running defense.
Running defense is the Eagles’ weak link, statistically. The Eagles allow an alarming 5.1 yards per carry, 29th in the league, and will be without injured nose tackle Jordan Davis.
For the Texans to win, they should commit to the run and be successful in its execution. Even if the Eagles go ahead by two scores, Houston should run and run some more.
3. TEXANS WIN?
Well, this is a reach, right?
How can the Texans win? Force turnovers, go on long drives dominated with the running game, score touchdowns instead of field goals.
If this game were played on regular rest, I don’t think the Texans would have much of a chance.
Maybe the Eagles are looking ahead to the Commanders’ game? Texans, 16-13.