The cities of Philadelphia and Houston are on a collision course this week, as not only are the Phillies and Astros squaring off in the World Series, but the Eagles (7-0) visit the Texans (1-5-1) on Thursday Night Football. This game has the makings of one of the more lopsided matchups of the season with the second-widest opening spread so far in 2022.
After dispatching the Steelers 35-13 last week, the Eagles have matched their best start in franchise history. They also started the 2004 season 7-0 en route to a Super Bowl appearance, but their first loss came in week 9 that season. If they can avoid a massive upset this week, they will set a new franchise-best mark.
The Texans currently hold the second-worst record in the league and the fourth-worst point differential (-38). Can they put up enough of a fight at home against the soaring Eagles to at least have a chance at covering the spread, let alone competing to win?
Let’s take a look at the odds, injuries and depth charts for this Eagles vs. Texans matchup and see my picks and predictions for the game.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans Betting Odds
The Eagles opened as nearly a two-touchdown favorite with a spread of -13 and moneyline odds as low as -835 at some sportsbooks. Those odds have not deterred bettors early in the week, as roughly 90% of the money is on the Eagles laying the points and on the Eagles’ moneyline. Even if that trend continues, it’s unlikely the line would move much further in the Eagles’ direction before Thursday.
The over/under for this matchup opened at 43 points and has moved up to 45, with over 75% of the money being bet on the over. The Texans will likely struggle to exceed their average of 16.6 points per game (29th in the league) against an Eagles’ defense that ranks top four in both points and yards allowed. So bettors taking the over are expecting the Eagles’ high-flying offense (3rd in both yards gained and points scored per game) to score enough points against the Texans’ poor defense (17th in points allowed and 30th in yards allowed) to drive the total up.
The implied outcome of these odds is the Eagles winning 28.5-15.5.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans Prediction
Houston has a problem against the juggernaut that is the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles. They actually have several problems.
The first problem is matching up with the Eagles’ offense, which ranks third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The Texans’ defense ranks 30th.
The second problem is finding ways to attack the Eagles’ defense, which ranks 2nd in DVOA. The Texans’ offense ranks 31st.
Not to oversimplify it, but it really is that simple. The Eagles are one of the deepest, most complete teams in the league, and the numbers show it. The Texans are one of the weakest and most inexperienced teams, and the numbers show it.
The only way the Eagles don’t cover the spread in this game is if they beat themselves. With a league-leading two turnovers and +14 turnover differential, they don’t really do that either. Could a road game on a short week yield some lack of preparation and lack of focus? Possibly. On short weeks like this teams tend to rely more on pure talent and less on specific game plans and schematic advantages, so perhaps some of the Eagles’ strengths will be muted by the short week. But I would not bet on that.
With all that being said, I am laying the 13 points with the Eagles this week, and I feel good about it. The moneyline odds are not very appealing, so it’s not really worth the capital, but it can’t hurt either.
The tougher call in this game is the total. In a similar situation with the Eagles and Steelers last week, my analysis was that the Eagles would come out of their bye week and make a point of improving one of their only weaknesses to that point in the season: second-half scoring. As a result, they would score enough points to drive the total over 43.5. Well, they scored two touchdowns in the second half and the total was 48. I could see a similar game script playing out in this matchup, so I’m taking the over again.
My prediction: Eagles win 34-13, Eagles cover, over 45 points
- The Eagles are 5-1 ATS in their last six games and 6-1 in their last seven Thursday games.
- The Texans are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games and 3-10 in their last 13 Thursday games.
- The over is 5-2 in the Texans’ last seven home games vs. a team with a winning record.
- The over is 4-1 in the Eagles’ last five road games and last five overall vs. a team with a losing record.
- In the last four meetings between these teams, the Eagles have been the favorite each time, and they are 4-0 ATS.
Philadelphia Eagles Injuries: DT Jordan Davis (O – ankle), CB Josiah Scott (Q – ankle)
Houston Texans Injuries: DT Maliek Collins (Q – chest), WR Nico Collins (Q – groin), LB Neville Hewitt (Q – hamstring), OG Justin McCray (Q – concussion), S Grayland Arnold (Q – quad), OG A.J. Cann (Q – illness), LB Christian Harris (Q – thigh), S Desmond King (Q – knee)
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans below.
Eagles’ rushing offense vs. Texan’s defensive front
The Eagles have shown this season that rather than sticking to one offensive identity, they will adapt their style of offense to attack the defense’s biggest weaknesses. Last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 29th-ranked passing defense, they attacked through the air and A.J. Brown caught three long touchdown passes in the first half. The Texans have a league average pass defense (17th), but are dead last in rushing defense, giving up a historically bad average of 186 yards per game.
To put that in context, the 2008 Lions that went 0-16 allowed the most rushing yards per game of any team in the last 20 seasons. They allowed 172.1 yards per game, 14 fewer yards per game than the Texans are currently allowing. Last week against the Titans, rookie QB Malik Willis got his first career start, so it was fairly obvious that Texans would be stacking the box to stop Derrick Henry and forcing Malik Willis to beat them. Henry still went off for 219 rushing yards.
So yeah, you can be sure that the Eagles are going to attack the Texans defense on the ground.
Texans’ running back Dameon Pierce vs. Eagles’ front seven
Sanders is not the only running back in this matchup that could be primed for a big game. Rookie Dameon Pierce has been one of the biggest bright spots for the Texans this season. After a quiet week one with only 12 touches, the Texans unleashed Pierce and he has averaged 21.5 touches and 84.3 rushing yards per game over the last six games (4.6 yards per carry). He has done that despite averaging just 1.7 yards before contact (one of the lowest rates in the league), because he shown the ability to run through would-be tacklers and has forced 17 missed tackles (2nd in the league behind Henry).
The Eagles’ run defense has been somewhat vulnerable this season. They have allowed 5.1 yards per carry (29th in the league) and have struggled with missed tackles (41 on the season, 10th most per game). They also just lost one of their best run defenders in mammoth defensive tackle Jordan Davis to a high ankle sprain.
The Eagles should be focused on slowing down Pierce, and the Texans might not be able to stay committed to the run if they fall behind early, but they should. Pierce can be a big difference-maker in this game.
Texans’ offensive line vs. Eagles’ pass rush
The Texans have built a solid offensive line anchored by two solid tackles in LT Laremy Tunsil and RT Tytus Howard. Left guard Kenyon Green was the 15th overall pick in the 2022 draft, and while he has struggled a bit to start the season, he has a ton of talent. As a unit, their offensive line has allowed just 16 sacks so far this season (10th in the league, and 15th on a per-dropback basis).
This week will be a major test for that unit against one of the best pass rushing defenses in the league. The Eagles are top ten in the league in sacks (23, 6th) and pressure rate (23% of dropbacks, 9th). They also just bolstered the pass rush with the acquisition of Robert Quinn, a former All-Pro who had 18.5 sacks last season.
Part of the reason for the Texans’ solid numbers at protecting the quarterback is that second-year signal caller Davis Mills rarely holds the ball long enough to let plays develop down field. Mills is averaging the 9th-fastest time to throw and the 10th-lowest intended air yards, and on average he throws the ball 2.1 yards behind the first-down marker. In other words, he gets rid of the ball quickly and mostly throws short passes just a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
The Eagles will need to get home quickly if they want to continue generating pressure at their typical rate.