Graphic by Ethan Gullet

Graphic by Ethan Gullet

The Oakland Raiders entered this week with a 3-3 record, which put them in second place in the American Football Conference West behind Kansas City. After a 42-24 loss to Green Bay, the Raiders played a physical style — something coach Jon Gruden has preached about since being hired before last season. The Raiders held the lead until the fourth quarter when Deshaun Watson found Darren Fells in the endzone twice to win Houston the game, 27-24. The Raiders were the first to strike on a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Derek Carr to rookie receiver Hunter Renfrow on his first touchdown reception of his NFL career. Carr exploited Houston’s main weakness in the secondary and ended the day with 285 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. Two minutes after the Raiders’ first score, Watson drove the Texans down the field and connected with running back Duke Johnson on a 12-yard touchdown strike to tie the game at seven. With the score 21-13, Watson threw his second touchdown of the day and his first one to Fells to make the game 21-20. After a Raiders field goal, Watson remained calm and threw the game-winning touchdown and second to Fells to give the Texans the edge. Oakland held the lead and the momentum for the majority of the game, but Watson’s heroics gave Houston a chance at winning to keep the Texans in second place in the AFC South.

The final score: 27-24

Player of the Game: Deshaun Watson

This game was an opportunity for both teams to stay in the playoff hunt as they both stand at second place in their divisions. With little help from his offensive line, Watson’s ability to make plays to keep the Texans in every game is a treat to watch because he has become one of the up-and-coming young quarterbacks who has a chance to become one of the greats. Coming into the week, the Texans had a 4-3 record coming off a loss to Indianapolis, 30-23. Watson finished the day with 279 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, including the game winner. Watson’s number one target, Deandre Hopkins, had an impressive showing recording 11 catches for 109 receiving yards, which gave him 617 yards on the season. The running game proved effective this week as Carlos Hyde posted 83 rushing yards on 19 carries. Watson’s play this season has been MVP-level: Watson has 2,231 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, 242 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns after just eight games. Watson succeeded without receiver Will Fuller who has an injured hamstring and rookie offensive line starter Tytus Howard who has a knee injury. Posting 388 total yards, 29 first downs, and zero turnovers, the Texans’ offense showed resilience keeping themselves in the game and having success both on the ground with the run game and through the air with Watson’s electric arm.

The Texans had an average day on defense holding the Raiders to 24 points and 15 first downs. Carr was able to stay comfortable in the pocket and connected with receiver Tyrell Williams and tight end Darren Waller throughout the game. The run defense played average and allowed 93 rushing yards, including 66 yards to rookie running back Josh Jacobs. Carr threw for 285 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, which was the primary driving force for the Raiders, and held momentum until the fourth quarter. Carr has been an average quarterback in the league so far, with 1,695 passing yards and 11 passing touchdowns with only four interceptions. The Texans’ star defensive end J.J. Watt left the game with a shoulder injury, which will sideline him for the rest of the season, meaning that players on the defensive line must step up in his absence for the rest of the year. As a unit, the Texans have recorded 17 sacks on the year. After this game, the team sits at 5-3 and second place in the AFC South. Their chances of making the playoffs still remain a high possibility; however, Watt’s injury might make things difficult for the team going forward.

Next week, the Texans will face off against the Jaguars in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have been lackluster this season, coming off a 29-15 win against the New York Jets last week. With quarterback Nick Foles injured, Gardner Minshew has filled in nicely with his rocket arm and striking personality. The Texans must rattle the young rookie to win as well as contain the Jaguars’ number one rushing option, Leonard Fournette. Receiver Dede Westbrook missed their last game with a neck injury and will be questionable to play on Sunday. In their last game against the Jets, Minshew threw for 279 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, which led his team to a win. The defense is led by safety Ronnie Harrison with 47 total tackles and two sacks and linebacker Josh Allen with a team-high 7 sacks. This game should be an easy win for the Texans as offensive success will be crucial in beating the young and talented Jaguars defense. Watson will keep the Texans in every game this season. Now, it is a matter of who will step up and make big plays when they matter.

Houston, 24-13 in Week 9

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