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Game Preview: Bears-Texans

A winnable game? Wait, it’s one of the scorned 2017 quarterbacks....

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Just when it may appear that the Bears have a winnable game on the schedule, it snaps back that the opponent has one of the scorned 2017 quarterbacks.

I think everyone knows the story at this point: Deshaun Watson never talked to the Bears prior to the 2017 NFL Draft. They went to his Pro-Day and that was the extent of their “homework.”

So you think he hasn’t had this Sunday’s game circled since the schedule came out? Since 2018?

Doesn’t seem as winnable now, does it?

Houston Texans

SB Nation site: Battle Red Blog

Record: 4-8, third in AFC South

Last week: 26-20 loss to the Colts

Game day, time, TV: Sunday, CBS, noon

Bears all-time record against: 0-4

Historical meetings: This is the only franchise that the Bears have never beaten and I know that it’s partially a fluke thing of only playing each other every four years.

Still though, that is not good.

Particularly, in the two previous games at Soldier Field the Bears have scored a total of 11 points. Yikes.

In their first meeting back in Week 15 of 2004, the Texans came to Chicago on a bitterly cold day.

The game between the 5-8 squads was pretty ugly, with the Texans scoring first very late (27 seconds) in the first half before the Bears registered a safety following a David Carr intentional grounding in the endzone penalty.

Paul Edinger kicked a field goal at the start of the fourth quarter but then Domanick Williams scored and the Texans returned a Chad Hutchinson fumble 60 yards en route to a 24-5 Texans win.

Hutchinson and Edinger both threw interceptions as well.

Last meeting: Week 1 of 2016, the Bears went to Houston and got beat by Brock Osweiler, who threw touchdowns to Will Fuller (5 catches, 107 yards) and DeAndre Hopkins (5 catches, 54 yards).

The Bears lost 23-14.

Injury report: The Texans listed seven players on their Wednesday injury report:

Limited: WR Brandin Cooks (neck/foot), WR Keke Coutee (knee), RB C.J. Prosise (illness)

Did not participate: TE Pharaoh Brown (concussion), CB Keion Crossen (foot), CB Phillip Gaines (knee/shoulder), CB John Reid (neck)

Offense: The Texans come into the week ranked 18th in points and 16th in yards.

Their passing offense ranks second and their rushing offense ranks 32nd.

That disparity is quite stark, but Deshaun Watson (68.8 pct cmp./3,542 yds./24 TD/6 INT) is playing at the best level of his career, even without DeAndre Hopkins.

His top receiver in receptions is actually WR Brandin Cooks (57 rec./784 yds./3 TD), who, it should be noted is on the injury report this week.

Beyond him, with Will Fuller suspended, its veteran and former Packer Randall Cobb (38/441/3), RB Duke Johnson (26/196/1), TEs Jordan Akins (24/285/1) and Darren Fells (19/275/3) and WR Keke Coutee (14/179/1) is coming off his best game of the year.

On the ground, the leading rusher is the other side of the Hopkins trade, David Johnson (113 att./452 yds./4 TDs). Behind him are Johnson (69/209/1) and of course Watson isn’t a bad running threat rushing threat himself (69/331/3).

Defense: The Texans defense comes into Chicago 24th in points against and 30th in yards allowed.

Their passing defense is 21st and their rushing defense is 31st.

That should tell you that Matt Nagy is going to dial up a pass-happy attack, doesn’t it?

Anyway, the defense is led by LB Zach Cunningham (119 tkl/3 sk/4 TFL), DE J.J. Watt (5 sk/11 TFL/10 QB hits/2 FF/7 PD/1 INT), Whitney Mercilus (4 sk/5 TFL/6 QB hits) and Vernon Hargreaves III (5 PD/1 INT/50 tkl/1 TFL).

Their secondary is banged up and partially depleted with Bradley Roby (1 INT/7 PD/37 tkl) suspended for the remainder of the season, Justin Reid (79 tkl/3 PD/6 TFL) and Phillip Gaines (24 tkl/1 PD) showing up on the injury report.

Key match ups: The Bears’ secondary against Brandin Cooks. He has crazy speed and can take the top off the defense and now with Fuller out, he’s the number one. Keke Coutee is coming off a huge game though and will try to fill in the Fuller role but is a little bit more of a Tarik Cohen type in that he lines up all over the place.

The defensive line has to get pressure on Watson too. Houston doesn’t have a run game to speak of, so the DL should be able to somewhat tee off. Watson is dangerous outside the pocket so using Roquan Smith as a spy could be a good idea as well.

For the offense, run the football. This run defense is dead last in the league. There’s no excuse for David Montgomery not to have 20 to 25 carries.

Key Stats

  • The Texans have the fewest defensive takeaways in the league with eight
  • Chicago and Houston have the 31st and 32nd ranked rushing offenses
  • The Bears as a team are averaging 4.0 yards per carry, while Houston is allowing 4.9 YPC
  • The Texans have eight rushing touchdowns this year, which is just ahead of Chicago’s five (which is dead last)
  • Houston’s opponents have had a collective 106.6 passer rating this season, while Chicago’s quarterbacks have combined for an 83.0 rating
  • The Bears have never beaten the Texans in four previous tries
  • In the two games the Bears have hosted Houston Chicago has scored a total of 11 points
  • The only franchises with a lower franchise passing leader than the Bears (23,443) are the Texans (23,221) and Tampa Bay (19,737)

Do you think Deshaun Watson will be out for blood this weekend? Can the Bears beat the Texans for the first time ever Sunday?