In Behind Enemy Lines, I sneak into enemy territory to get the lowdown on the Bears’ next opponent and do the dirty work so you don’t have to. This week sends me to Houston, so insert your steers and queers joke here. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like every opponent in recent weeks hasn’t had a strong presence on the fansided network. The Toro Times, the Texans’ site, has the equivalent of tumbleweeds blowing down the streets, so I turned to the Houston Chronicle to get some dirt on the Texans for the Week 17 clash with the Beloved.
After all that the Bears have been through the last couple of weeks, needing consecutive OT wins and getting some help along the way, you might think a win over the Houston Texans would be a foregone conclusion. That is not the case, my friends. This is not the Texans team of old; Houston is definitely a team on the rise. While they are not in the playoff hunt, they can tie a franchise best 8 wins for the second straight season. They boast a solid 5-2 home record this season, with the losses coming at the hands of Indianapolis and Baltimore, both Wild Card representatives in the AFC heading into the final week of the season.
The Texans offense ranks 3rd in the league, averaging over 377 yards per game. They feature a rookie runner of their own in Steve Slaton, who comes into Week 17 with a Texans’ record 1190 yards and a 4.8 yards per carry average. They add a dimension to their offense that the Bears are not very familiar with: a passing game. Andre Johnson is an absolute beast with 105 catches and a league-leading 1427 yards, while Kevin Walter leads the team with 8 TD catches. Matt Schaub has done a good job holding on to the ball recently, only committing 3 turnovers since his return from injury.
On the other side of the ball, the Texans rank 25th against the run, so hopefully Ron Turner has a steady diet of Matt Forte in the offensive game plan this week. Mario Williams is clearly the pass rusher to watch, leading the Texans in sacks, while linebacker DeMeco Ryans leads the team with 102 tackles. The Texan defense has been a bit streaky this year, holding the Titans to 13 points in a victory two weeks ago, while letting up 27 points in their loss last week to the lowly Raiders.
The Texans head in Sunday’s contest as a 2.5 point favorite. The Houston Chronicle picks the Bears to pull off the upset and come out of Reliant Stadium with a 24-20 victory. If they are to do that, the Bears will slow down Andre Johnson, feature a steady dose of Matt Forte and the Special Teams will continue to be special. Fasten your seat belts Bears fans, it should be an interesting Week 17!