Texans-Browns Key Matchups
On Sunday, the Houston Texans visit Cleveland to take on the Browns. A victory for Houston keeps their playoff hopes alive, while a win for Cleveland strengthens their grip on the division lead. Here are some key matchups to look for during this contest:
The Offensive Line vs J.J. Watt: As the whole football nation knows, J.J. Watt is unreal. Through nine games, he has recorded 39 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and two defensive touchdowns. His size, power, and speed can cause disruption among an offensive line. While still enduring the severe loss of Alex Mack, the Cleveland offensive line must be at the top of their game if they hope to slow down Watt. This is a Browns line ranked 5th in the league with 13 sacks allowed. J.J. Watt is an animal and he is going to make plays, but Kyle Shanahan’s blocking schemes could be creative enough to slow the beast down.
Brian Hoyer vs Texans Secondary: Brian Hoyer may not be among the elite quarterbacks, but he is an excellent game manager. Hoyer also has the support of the home crowd, where he is 4-1 this season. The Ohio native protects the ball and knows what it takes to win a game. The Browns are tied for third in the fewest giveaways, with four interceptions and four fumbles lost. Turnovers are the important stat to watch for as the Texans lead the league with 21 takeaways, including ten picks and a league high 11 fumble recoveries. Turnovers must be limited in order to secure a Cleveland victory.
Joe Haden vs Andre Johnson: As Houston’s number one receiver, Johnson should be shadowed by Haden for most of the game. Haden got off to a slow start this season, but has caught fire recently. The cornerback is coming off a terrific game, limiting Cincinnati’s, A.J. Green to three catches for 23 yards on ten targets. Fortunately for us, Andre Johnson hasn’t been dominant this year, not yet registering a 100 yard game and only catching 60% of his targets. He does lead the team with 48 receptions, but has only reached the end zone once. In fact, the wide out only has five red zone catches on the year. I anticipate Haden to blanket Johnson all game, limiting him to less than 50 yards.
Buster Skrine vs DeAndre Hopkins: This might prove to be the most intriguing matchup as Hopkins has benefited from lining up opposite Andre Johnson. He leads the Texans with 684 yards and four touchdowns. Hopkins has caught for 100 yards three times this year and has averaged 106 yards over his past three games. Antonio Brown and T.Y. Hilton are the only two receivers with more 60 yard games than Hopkins. That is good company. Buster Skrine will be checking Hopkins most of the game and he will have his hands full. The cornerback is more than capable, though, as he shut down Mohamed Sanu, 2 catches for 20 yards on seven targets. Skrine was also able to snag two interceptions against the Bengals and hopes to register another one Sunday.
Ben Tate vs The Houston Texans: Tate faces off against his former team looking for vengeance. This season, Tate has rushed for 342 yards and four touchdowns, although his recent struggles have cost him touches. Expect the former Texan to run harder than ever to try and make a statement. Another motivator for Ben Tate is his push to regain his starting role. This is the perfect opportunity for Ben’s revenge as Houston ranks 21st against the run, surrendering an average of 117.3 rushing yards per game.
Well there you have it folks, the key matchups for the game. Check it out on CBS at 1:00 p.m.