What: Texans vs. Cardinals
When: 11/19 at 12:00 CST Kickoff
Or: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Television/Radio: KRIV-TV, KILT-Radio
Betting lines: Texans -6 (-110), O/U 48 (-110) *At the time of writing
One of the best football players in Texas is coming home! Well…sort of. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was born in Bedford and went to high school in Allen. The last time I remember Murray playing at NRG was his freshman year at A&M in the Advocare Texas Kickoff. He transferred after that year to Oklahoma. Although Murray will play only his second game this season after recovering from a torn ACL, he is just as dangerous with his legs playing as he was before the injury. That being said, CJ Stroud is a very dangerous quarterback himself. But in a very different way. These two represent the two different styles of quarterback in today’s game. Murray is more of an athletic jammer who puts pressure on defenses with his running ability and playmaking abilities outside the pocket. Stroud is more of a traditional pocket passer who possesses deadly accuracy/touch, but has the athleticism to scramble when necessary.
When the Cardinals have the ball: The Texans defense will have to contain Murray. I know. I know. It’s easier said than done. Discipline in lane running will be imperative for the defensive front. This is the only way to keep a quarterback in the pocket and not give up easy running routes to escape. Not only is he able to take it to the house if he escapes, but he also has speedy receivers (Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore in particular) to bring the ball down the field. Although they don’t average more than 300 offensive yards per game, they rank in the top ten in rushing yards (126.5) per game. I fully expect their 170 passing yards per game to increase with Murray back in the fold. Jimmie Ward, still out, hurts, but having Derek Stingley Jr back and healthy should help.
When the Texans have the ball: Devin Singletary just had the best ground performance a Texan has had all year. His 150 yards are the most a Texan has had since Pierce had 139 last year in Week 9 against the Eagles. The Cardinals allow 134.2 rushing yards per game, ranking 28th in the league. Again, this is a week in which the running game needs to be established. Stroud may have trouble passing against the 11th ranked defense in passing yards per game, but I doubt it. People have been saying this all season long. Throughout the season, he proved them wrong (including myself on several occasions). Stroud won’t have Noah Brown this week, who is coming off back-to-back 100-yard performances. However, Nico Collins is expected to return to action this Sunday.
Result: One team is rebuilding on the fly and looking toward the future, while the other has completed its rebuild and is looking to make the playoffs. One team has a former Heisman winner, while the other has an MVP candidate. One team has a coach who may already be in the hot seat given his organization’s penchant for firing guys after one season, while the other has a coach who is a candidate for coach of the year. You see what I mean. The Texans have clear advantages that should lead to an easy victory. However, the Cardinals are also a professional football team, so they won’t just roll over. I fully expect the Texans to put pressure on them by scoring and taking advantage of mistakes. If the Cardinals give up nearly 200 yards rushing, over 100 yards in penalties, lose the turnover battle, and go 3/11 on 3rd down conversions, they won’t be able to pull out a win this week like they have made last week. Maybe if they caught this team earlier this season, but not now. Texans 26, Cardinals 16