Thursday Night Football: Miami Dolphins (4-3) at Houston Texans (4-3)
What to Watch For:
Brock Osweiler’s revenge tour continues. After signing the notorious 4-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans, Osweiler’s been cut, traded, ridiculed, and laughed out of cities. Now, he’s back, filling in injured Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and he’s playing well. This is the type of player the Texans thought they’d be getting, now they have to defend against him in a very important game for both teams as they chase down playoff spots.
Osweiler leads a Dolphins teams that has surprised many getting off to a 4-3 start with a legitimate chance to contend for a playoff spot. These conference games are very important as conference record is essential in determining the brackets. The Dolphins would like to keep this a slow-paced game, while controlling the clock with Kenyan Drake and short, efficient passing from Osweiler. With the loss of Albert Wilson, they don’t have the over the top threat that they’ve used so well early in the season. It’ll be up to the receivers getting off the line cleanly and allowing Osweiler to make quick passes to the first/second read.
The Texans, on the other hand, have been a bit disappointing to get to their 4-3 start. The must-see show that was Deshaun Watson in 2017 has cooled off a bit as he’s come back to Earth and learning how to truly read pro defenses and combat the way they are attempting to neutralize him. The key to tonight’s game for the Texans will be the running game and Lamar Miller. Miller, who’s been non-existent, for the early part of the season, had his first 100-yard game (and first rushing touchdown) a week ago in Jacksonville. Getting the running game going, opening play-action and allowing Hopkins and Watson to do what they do best and stretch the field will make things very difficult on Miami’s shaky defense.
Prediction: Texans win 23-20
RB Kenyan Drake
The key to victory for the Dolphins is to run the ball and control the clock. The good news is the Texans are spectacularly mediocre at stopping the run. They are 13th in the NFL allowing 15.7 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Drake will look to exploit this deficiency in Houston’s defense and have a performance similar to last where he ran for 72 yards on just 6 carries with a score.
RB Lamar Miller
The Texans are loaded with deep threat receivers and a quarterback who loves to throw the ball downfield as much as possible. The best way to get the ball down is to start running the ball successfully to force the defenders to cheat up. Enter Lamar Miller. Following his first 100-yard game, he will look to take advantage of a putrid Miami run defense that currently allows 24.9 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, ranking them 30th in the league.
WR Danny Amendola
Amendola is dealing with a shoulder injury, but is likely to play tonight. That’s not why he’s here, I think he’ll struggle to find openings in a defense that is stingy against the pass. Houston currently allows just 20.4 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receiver groups, ranking them 5th in the NFL. Brock Osweiler will need to get the ball out quickly to avoid J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney coming off the edge; Amendola will struggle to create separation off the line forcing the ball elsewhere.
QB Deshaun Watson
Watson hasn’t exactly gotten off to the start that everyone was expecting following his 2017 debut, and I think those struggles will continue tonight. Miami sports one of the stingiest defenses against opposing quarterbacks, allowing just 15.4 fantasy points per game. In a game where I believe Lamar Miller will be the focal point of the offense, naturally means Watson will not light up the fantasy scoreboard. It’s easy to project a long touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins and not much else, perhaps an interception and a fumble in the game.