The Week 11 NFL schedule brings us a matchup between a pair of unexpected division leaders as the Houston Texans visit the Washington Redskins. Game time is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, November 18, at FedExField in Landover, Maryland. Fans in local markets can watch the game on CBS.
Oddsmakers list the Texans as 3-point favorites on the road. That line has bumped up slightly after Houston opened as 2.5-point favorites. The over/under is set at 42.5 points. Make sure you check out a full list of the Week 11 NFL odds.
The Texans enjoyed a bye last week, but prior to that, they had rattled off six straight wins to make their 0-3 start to the season a distant memory. For what it’s worth, none of the six teams the Texans beat during that stretch currently have a winning record. However, they certainly deserve credit for turning their season around after a terrible start and being able to take care of business against weaker teams.
As it stands, Houston sits atop the AFC South standings at 6-3. They are one game up on the Titans and two games ahead of the Colts, two teams that play each other this week. After this week’s game in Washington, the Texans only have one more game against a team with a winning record. They also play four of their last six games at home, so things are setting up nicely for the Texans heading down the stretch.
The Redskins, meanwhile, were able to bounce back from a disappointing home loss to the Falcons by beating Tampa on the road last week. Washington has now won four of their last five games to move to 6-3 on the season and open a two-game lead over the Cowboys and Eagles atop the NFC East standings.
Despite that cushion, this is a vital game for the Redskins. They still have three games left against either the Eagles or Cowboys, so that two-game lead could disappear quickly if they start to slip-up. The Redskins are also on the road for four of the next five weeks after hosting the Texans on Sunday, so their schedule doesn’t do them any favors if they want to secure their first division title since 2015.
Houston’s winning streak has to come to an end at some point, right? Well, it won’t be this week. The Redskins have some limitations that have become apparent over the past couple of weeks, and the Texans are the kind of team that can expose them. Even as road favorites, I’ll eat the points and lean toward Houston.
Washington’s most glaring weakness may be a banged up offensive line. To their credit, that unit stood tall last week against the Bucs, as the Redskins were able to run for over 100 yards. However, they also gave up three sacks to one of the worst defensive teams in the NFL. This week, that makeshift offensive line will be going up against the likes of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. It may be asking too much to keep those two under wraps.
If the Washington offensive line can’t hold their own, it’ll become that much more difficult to run the ball against a Houston defense giving up just 3.6 yards per carry on the season. Perhaps more than any other team in the NFL, the Redskins need their running game to carry the offense. When Alex Smith is forced to throw the ball so often that he eclipses the 200-yard mark, they usually lose.
The Houston secondary can be vulnerable at times. But that’s not going to matter if Washington can’t establish and rushing attack and give Smith time in the pocket. Even if they wanted to take shots deep, the Redskins don’t have the receivers to challenge Houston’s secondary, especially with Paul Richardson out for the season.
On the other side of the ball, the Redskins giving up just three points against Tampa Bay last week could be a bit of fool’s gold. Washington’s defense was good in the red zone and forced four turnovers, but they also gave up over 500 yards of offense. Keep in mind that the Redskins gave up nearly 500 yards of offense and 38 points against the Falcons two weeks ago, and that was at home.
Behind Deshaun Watson, the Houston offense can be just as lethal as the Falcons. Watson had last week’s bye to gel more with new acquisition Demaryius Thomas. With Thomas and DeAndrew Hopkins together, the Houston passing game will be tough to stop. Watson has gone three straight games without throwing an interception, and as long as he keeps that up, the Texans are set up for a good day offensively.
In the end, I don’t think the Redskins can survive a banged up offensive line, a lack of a downfield passing attack, and a defense that’s giving up yards like they’re going out of style. There’s every chance this game turns into a shootout, and there’s no way Smith will be able to keep up with Watson. I can see the Texans covering the 3-point spread with ease.