Eagles Inactives, Pick and Matchup to Watch vs Texans
The Eagles are coming off a hard-fought 24-20 loss in Arizona last week to fall to 5-2 on the season. At 5-2, Philadelphia remains a half-game behind Dallas (6-2) in the NFC East, the Cowboys are hosting the Cardinals today.
The Texans' 30-16 victory at Tennessee in Week 8 snapped a three-game losing streak and evened Houston's record at 4-4.
In the 2012 draft, the Eagles took quarterback Nick Foles in the third round. Nick Foles completed 36-of-62 passes for 411 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in Sunday's Week 8 loss at Arizona.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft. In his most recent start, Fitzpatrick completed just 19-of-35 passes for 227 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions in the Texans' Week 8 win over the Titans.
The Eagles have never lost to the Texans, in fact, Philadelphia has won each meeting against the Texans by at least 10 points, including the most recent encounter in 2010 (34-24). The Eagles have never lost to a team from Houston, going 6-0 against the Oilers (through 1996) and 3-0 versus the Texans (since 2002).
(ESPN.com NFL insider KC Joyner looks at the match-up)
KC Joyner Part I:
KC Joyner Part II:
Nate Allen will miss the game with a hamstring injury, second-year man Earl Wolff will start in his place. Wolff will get a shot to prove he belongs, he looked like an up-and-coming player last year, but as not been the same guy this season.
The Eagles are getting healthier as we hit the middle of the NFL season. Center Jason Kelce, who has been out since the first week of the season is set to return, he'll be replacing David Molk. Getting Kelce back is a huge boost to the Eagles run game - Kelce is one of the top guys in the league when it comes to getting out in front of a play and springing a 5-yard gain into a 35-yard gain. Also set to make his return after a one week absence is running back Darren Sproles. Losing Sproles was a big blow to the Eagles offense last week, while he is a spot player, he adds a big play dimension that the Eagles were lacking last week in Arizona. Right guard Todd Herremans was diagnosed with a torn left bicep earlier in the week, but will attempt to continue playing.
On the Texans injury front, linebacker Brian Cushing was hoping to be back for the Texans Week 9 matchup with the Eagles, but hew will miss the game with a knee injury. Cushing practiced Friday for the first time since Week 7 - a good indication that he will play in the game, but reports this Sunday morning are that he will not play in the game. Another big name for Houston, the first overall pick in this year's draft, Jadeveon Clowney will also miss the game due to an illness. Reports in Houston are that the Texans are becoming frustrated with Clowney, who has now missed seven of nine games due to a knee sprain and this illness.
Match-Up to watch:
(ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio talks about the match-up to watch)
J.J. Watt vs Eagles offensive line: Houston's defense has forced 17 turnovers this season, second best in the NFL this season. The pressure that J.J. Watt causes should be concerning this week, the Eagles committed three turnovers, giving them 12 over the past four games. Their minus-7 turnover differential ranks 29th, ahead of only Washington, Jacksonville and the New York Jets, all of which have now undergone in-season quarterback changes.
When we spoke to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle this week on the Sports Bash he commented that "everyone on the Eagles offensive line will have a chance to block JJ Watt."
He also noted thats something everyone's been talking about down in Houston this week is Foles turnovers vs the Texans ability to force turnovers.
Eagles’ inactives: QB Matt Barkley, S Nate Allen, WR Brad Smith, OL Julian Vandervelde, OL Dennis Kelly, LB Marcus Smith and DE Taylor Hart.
Texans’ inactives: LB Brian Cushing, DE Jadeveon Clowney, QB Tom Savage, WR DeVier Posey, CB Darryl Morris, ILB Jeff Tarpinian and T Jeff Adams.
Reaction: The Texans are an interesting team, that not a lot of people know about or give a lot of credit to following their 2-14 campaign one season ago. They remind me a lot of the Eagles, a team who bottomed out last year, but wasn't really as bad as their record indicated. They fired long-time coach Gary Kubiak and hired a college coach, Bill O'Brien from Penn State. O'Brien has given the Texan fans a lot of hope and once he finds his quarterback they could be a scary team.
One way to beat the Texans is to try to go down-the-field on them. The Texans secondary is average and can be beaten vertically, but that has not been an area of strength so far this season for the Eagles offense.
Most people look at Ryan Fitzpatrick as a journeyman, which he is, his 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions are indicative of his up-and-down play and the Texans 4-4 mark. If the Eagles defense can pressure him the way they pressured, not sacked, Carson Palmer last week they should be able to force Fitzpatrick into a couple of mistakes.
Running back Arian Foster is back to playing at a high level, he is currently second in the NFL in rushing with 766 yards and 7 touchdowns on the season. Foster gained 151 yards on 20 carries last week, topping 100 yards for the sixth time this season - cementing the fact that the Eagles will have their hands full with him this week.
The wide receiving core DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson is talented, but they really don't get much from the tight end position. Johnson is a guy who should worry the Eagles fans, like Larry Fitzgerald last week, his best days may be behind him, but he still has the ability to break out at any time - is this the week?
The Texans have an aggressive defense, losing a player like Clowney will hurt, he could have been a difference maker and only add to the problems that Watt presents. Without him, the Eagles can find Watt and use more double teams.
Should be a great game, and make no mistake about it, this is a pretty important but tricky game for the Eagles. In the end, if Nick Foles plays the way the 2013 version was able to play, the Eagles should be fine. However, if he is continuing to throw off his back foot, forcing things and turning the ball over against the opportunistic Texans defense that's the one way things can go wrong and the Eagles could lose.
Until Foles proves he can play with more consistency, this is a tough matchup for him, a very good defense who forces turnovers is a recipe for failure this week.
The Pick: Texans 28, Eagles 24