Tonight at 9:10 pm CST the Houston Texans and the San Diego Chargers will face off in the final game of Week 1. Both teams are understandably excited about finally starting their 2013 seasons, but I’d wager quite a large sum of money that the Texans are a lot more eager to face the Chargers than the other way around.
Matt Schaub and J.J. Watt should be even more excited about this matchup than anyone else, as the Chargers’ defense and offensive line both have some pretty big question marks heading into tonight’s game.
On the opposite side of the ball from Schaub will be a Bolts’ defense that ranked 18th against the pass and 29th in 3rd down conversions allowed. They did blitz the second-most in the NFL (37.2 percent of the time), but only tied for 11th in the NFL in sacks with 38.
The defense did snag 14 interceptions and 14 fumbles, but lost Quentin Jammer (4), Antoine Cason (4), Demorrio Williams (3), Corey Lynch (2), Takeo Spikes (2) and Shaun Phillips (2). Only two 2012 Chargers that had more than one turnover are returning in 2013 in Eric Weddle (5) and Donald Butler (2).
Dwight Freeney is now the best pass rusher the Chargers have, but that’s about it. The next-best rusher could be Jarret Johnson, but he only had 1.5 sacks last season and just two stuffs.
With the added luxury of DeAndre Hopkins and DeVier Posey to accompany Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels, I see Schaub passing for over 300 yards with at least two touchdowns and no interceptions. He’ll come out and prove tonight that he’s the quarterback to win a Super Bowl for the Texans.
As for Watt, he should be ecstatic just to get some serious playing time. Head coach Gary Kubiak pretty much chained him to the bench in the preseason (which is smart for health reasons but maybe not the best to get him into midseason form), so Watt definitely has the itch to get back to one thing he’s devoted his life to.
Watt faces an offensive line that allowed 49 sacks in 2012 to rank 29th in the league and an offense that rated as the second-worst team in the NFL yards-wise. They scored 21.9 points per game, ranking 20th in the league.
Watt faces off against rookie D.J. Fluker, Jeromey Clary, Nick Hardwick, Chad Rinehart and King Dunlap. Fluker is the only offensive lineman that’s starting that has less than six years of experience, but Clary, Rinehart and Dunlap are also new to the Chargers after the rest of the o-line left in free agency.
Don’t forget about Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers. Over the past two years he’s dropping back further and taking longer to get through his reads. He’s been sacked out the wazoo over that same period and had 47 turnovers. (That’s more turnovers than several NFL teams over that same period, including the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks.)
I predict that Watt finishes this game with 2.5 sacks and a deflected pass.
As for the final score, I think the Texans win this game 27-17.