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Week 3 Game Preview: Houston Texans

The focus shifts from Sunday night, as the Bears welcome a familiar face to town with Lovie Smith and the Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Lovie Smith era was a long time ago.

But for a lot of fans, it doesn’t seem like it was. Maybe it’s just my age because I was 16 when Lovie was hired and 24 when he was fired following the 2012 season.

I came of age as a Bears fan during Lovie’s tenure and not just literally, but also as a football fan.

For fans younger than myself, maybe you latched onto a player from that era that started your fandom. I know we have a couple of writers that say their earliest memory of the Bears is Super Bowl XLI.

And Lovie has been back to Chicago as a head coach, he faced the Bears with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014 and then again in Tampa in 2015.

This isn’t really a homecoming for him, although it was his most successful stop in the NFL (or college) as a head coach. But there is a bit of acknowledgment that should happen Sunday.

Matt Eberflus isn’t directly off of the Lovie Smith coaching tree, but there’s no question that the influence that Smith has had on Eberflus as a coach. He pretty much said as much when he was hired.

Eberflus worked for Rod Marinelli, who spent time in Chicago on Smith’s staff and was a key coach in young Smith’s career.

And for Smith, I’m sure there is some level of validation that the Bears franchise would turn back to someone in a similar style to him. And it isn’t a bad thing, either.

Smith is the most successful coach the Bears have had since Mike Ditka. Returning to what you know works can yield good results.

The coaching staff may be in the doghouse after that Sunday night performance, but I think Eberflus can be a good coach. I think he’s hired a good offensive coordinator in Luke Getsy, something Smith could never seem to figure out.

But this is a rebuilding process that’s going to have tough moments and Sunday was one of them.

Now Smith and his own rebuilding project come to town. This should be a bit more of an even fight than Chicago’s first two games.

Houston Texans

SB Nation site: Battle Red Blog

Record: 0-1-1

Last week: 16-9 loss to the Denver Broncos

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

Bears all-time record against: 1-4

Spread: Bears -3, O/U 40.5, according to DraftKings Sportsbook

Historical meetings: The Bears don’t exactly have an illustrious history against the Texans franchise. Considering the Texans have only existed for 20 years and the Bears have played them four times, there isn’t much history.

Plus the only time they beat them was their...

Last meeting: Week 14 2020.

Remember that weird run the Bears had towards the end of 2020 where they scored 30 or more points in four straight games? And they won three of them and ended up being in the playoffs?

It was a weird time, and for more than just that, but that was the background for this game.

David Montgomery started things off with an 80-yard touchdown. Jimmy Graham caught a 5-yard touchdown pass next.

The Texans had an 80-yard touchdown drive but after that, it was all Bears.

Khalil Mack sacked Deshaun Watson for a safety, one of seven sacks the Bears recorded.

Darnell Mooney caught a 12-yard touchdown from Mitch Trubisky and then Allen Robinson had a three-yard TD catch, part of 9 catches for 123 yards for him.

The Bears routed Houston 36-7.

Injury report: The Texans listed six players as being even limited or non-participants Wednesday.


  • LB Blake Cashman (hip)
  • LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (neck

Did not participate

  • OL Maliek Collins (knee)
  • DL Jerry Hughes (rest)
  • TE Brevin Jordan (ankle)
  • DB Isaac Yiadom (thigh)

Offense: The Texans offense comes into this game ranked 29th in yards and 26th in points.

The Texans are actually tied with the Bears for points after two games, although they have outgained Chicago.

Second-year quarterback Davis Mills (56 pct cmp/417 yds/2 TD/0 INT) has played fine, not great, not terrible. He’s a steady hand, but I’m not sure he’s being asked to do much more than manage the game.

His weapons as far as pass catchers are Brandin Cooks (11 rec/136 yds/0 TD), Nico Collins (6/84/0), Chris Moore (5/45/0), Pharaoh Brown (4/41/0) and O.J. Howard (3/45/2).

Veteran RB Rex Burkhead (7/39/0) is also getting a decent amount of receptions.

On the ground, Burkhead is behind Dameon Pierce (26 car/102 yds/0 TD), a highly touted rookie out of Florida. Burkhead (14/40/0) spells him, and QB Jeff Driskel (2/15/0) has come into a game in some kind of wildcat package.

They’re the 30th ranked third down offense and rank 19th in redzone efficiency.

Lovie is already out at the podium sounding an awful lot like his Chicago self.

Defense: The Texans rank ninth in points allowed but 31st in yards allowed.

Those stats just scream “bend, don’t break” which is, depending on context, a good and bad stereotype of Lovie’s teams.

The defense lacks star power but has a decent cast of talent, both young and old.

Jonathan Owens (25 tkls/1 PD), Kamu Gruiger-Hill (23 tkls/1 PD/1 TFL), first-round pick Derek Stingley (15 tkls/3 PD), Christian Kirksey (14 tkls/0.5 sk/1 TFl/2 QB hits/1 INT) and Jerry Hughes (2 sk/1 INT/1 FF/2 QB hits) are the main playmakers for the unit.

Other pass rushers are Rasheem Green (1.5 sk/2 QB hits) and Jonathan Greenard (1 sk/ 2 QB hits).

This is going to be a match-up of very similar defensive styles. Players swarming to the ball and trying to force turnovers. The biggest difference is Eberflus has a knack for mixing his coverages a little more and blitzing more often than Smith.

Key match-ups: The Bears will hopefully find some favorable match-ups against a Texans that are similarly talented to their own.

The Texans run defense ranks 30th and they’re allowing 4.7 yards per carry. Look for Chicago to continue what worked against the Packers and run the ball over and over.

The Bears rank dead last in nearly every passing category and advanced stat, but the Texans have allowed the seventh most passing yards and the 10th most yards after the catch.

There are some stats here that suggest the Bears could make some offensive plays. But Houston’s first two opponents have ended up in close games with them by playing to their level.

The Bears are going to have to step up if they want to win easily.

On defense, the Texans have allowed the fourth most sacks (tied with two other teams), so there are opportunities for Robert Quinn and Trevis Gipson.

While Mills is playing solid football and has yet to throw an interception, he has fumbled three times, although he’s only lost one of them.

Brandin Cooks is the most dangerous weapon in the passing game and he coming off two straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Key stats

  • Texans are allowing opponents to score on just 28.6 percent of their red zone trips, fourth best in the league. Teams have scored just two touchdowns on seven redzone possessions through two games.
  • Houston has allowed opponents the most first downs in the league at 53. The same as the Arizona Cardinals.
  • These two teams are equal in yards per play allowed (5.6) and net yards per pass attempt (6.3).
  • The Texans rank dead last in offensive yards per play (4.2), just three spots worse than the Bears (4.5).
  • Houston leads the league in missed tackles, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
  • These teams rank last (Houston) and second-to-last in yards per drive.

Can the Bears get right this week? Are they superior to the Texans or will this be a sloppy game between two bad teams?