by: Garret Heinrich (@GarretHeinrich)
The Houston Texans are getting ready to face off against the undefeated Minnesota Vikings for one of their tougher road games in their very tough slate of road games in the 2016 season (you can hear it here on SportsRadio 610 starting with pre-game at 9am with Mike Meltser and Seth Payne).
The Texans will have to really play their best game of the 2016 season to have both of these teams leave Minneapolis 4-1 on the year.
What will the Texans have to do that the Titans, Packers, Panthers and Giants couldn’t do?
1. Create Turnovers
The Texans showed an ability to create turnovers in the preseason, but that hasn’t translated to the regular season. The Texans have only created six turnovers this season in four games. One of those turnovers was a fumble during a run around and throw it everywhere play at the end of their win over the Tennessee Titans in week 4. The Vikings have turned the ball over on offense once. Yes, once. A fumble. The Texans are going to need to get the ball away from the lackluster Vikings offense in order to win this game.
Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill have not thrown an interception. That has to change. It actually has to change. If Sam Bradford goes all Nick Foles on the league this year I’m quitting football for good (and I’ve been close recently, I’m a Niners fan.)
2. Throw The Ball
This would seem to be the thing the Texans can do well, but the Texans will need to do it with efficiency, and threat to break the big one against a Minnesota team that doesn’t allow a lot of yards through the air. Teams are averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt against the Purple People Eaters, which is the 5th best in the league (the Texans are 4th best at 6.2, BTW). Take some shots when they are there and air it out.
3. Make The Vikings Run The Ball
There is no Adrian Peterson, and that obviously has something to do with the Vikings abysmal 2.4 yards per carry average. This could also be a scary proposition for the Texans, who are letting up 4.6 YPC, 4th worst in NFL. But the Texans have good run stoppers in Vince Wilfork, Jadeveon Clowney and Benardrik McKinney up front, let them make plays, force the Vikings into 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations where you make Sam Bradford have to throw. It’s always a good thing to make Bradford throw the ball, and the way to do that is giving defensive looks that make them want to run early in drives.
4. Let Will Fuller Return
Not that Will Fuller should be back returning kicks all the time, but he showed last week that he needs 2-3 shots a game to make something happen. Give him a chance. One big play on special teams could be the swing of this game and you have to give your best a shot, and Fuller is the Texans best.
5. Keep The Hall Of Famer Off The Field
The Texans have one sure-fire Hall of Famer on their roster and the Texans don’t want him on the field that much. Shane Lechler can’t punt the ball more than four times if the Texans are going win the game. When he does get out there, he’ll probably dominate and pin the Vikings deep, but the Texans have to convert their drives as often as possible. Against the Vikings field goals could be enough to win, so get into Vikings territory, get in deep and put points on the board as often as possible, say no to Shane. (Obviously, we’d rather see Lechler than a turnover, but the point is, get to where you can score A LOT.)
If the Texans can do these five things, they have a great chance to leave Minnesota with a 4-1 record and in a great position (and happy Sean Pendergast and Ted Johnson on the Texans Postgame show on SportsRadio 610) heading into their Sunday Night Football matchup against the rival Indianapolis Colts.