Eagles versus Houston: 10 Texans looking to fuel an unlikely upset

Steven Nelson #21, Houston Texans (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Steven Nelson #21, Houston Texans (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

From an outsider’s perspective, the Philadelphia Eagles have handled themselves impressively during this undefeated streak to begin their 2022-2023 NFL season. They’re 7-0, but you never hear them talk about it. Instead, they spend their time discussing the ‘one-week-at-a-time’ approach.

The focus is always on winning the next game. There is an unselfish attitude and comradery in the locker room that’s hard to ignore. This is a team that is very easy to like, and though they won’t look too far ahead, the rest of us can. Their schedule is favorable.

Their next battle versus the Texans is, no doubt, winnable. Don’t count Houston out though. They have their backs against the wall, and they need a win to stay relevant. Expect their best shot.

Here are ten Texans that hope to contribute to the end of the Eagles’ winning streak.

What they lack in talent, they make up for in effort. Let’s restate. The Texans are a worthy opponent. Don’t think for a second that a team coached by Lovie Smith is going to lie down. Here are ten guys that you’ll want to pay attention to in Week 9 on Thursday Night Football.

Steven Nelson, cornerback

Steven Nelson‘s second-quarter interception in Week 8 led to the Texans’ first score of the day, a field goal to put three points on the board versus the Tennessee Titans. Houston lost, but they’re making plays on defense from time to time. Their problem has been scoring.

In terms of Nelson, you guys remember him from his 2021 stint in Philly. He wasn’t great, nor was he terrible. He is serviceable however. We’ll have our eyes glued to him for obvious reasons.

Derek Stingley Jr, cornerback

The duty of trying to limit the Eagles’ passing attack falls largely on the shoulders of Nelson and the 2022 NFL Draft’s third-overall selection, Derek Stingley. The highly-touted rookie has 40 tackles, a sack, nine pass breakups, and an interception on the season.

Jalen Pitre, safety

If you’re beginning to believe the strength of the Texans’ defense is their secondary, you’d be correct. Now, if they can just figure out the first and second level and the offensive side of the ball.

Jalen Pitre was one of two second-round draft choices taken by Houston during the 2022 NFL Draft and the third player that they took overall. He’s been their best player on defense.

He leads the Texans in interceptions (two). He’s tied for fourth in pass breakups as only Desmond King II, Derek Stingley Jr., and Steven Nelson have more. Pitre also ranks third in tackles (48), and he’s even stuck his head in on a sack, the first of his career. He’s someone this Texans team can build around.

Christian Kirksey, linebacker

There aren’t many reasons to watch the Houston Texans play football, but Christian Kirksey is definitely one of them. Regardless of whether the game is within reach or in question, he gives it everything he has on every play. He has 50 tackles, two pass breakups, and an interception on the season.

Davis Mills, quarterback

There are die-hards. There are casual supporters of all 32 NFL franchises, but regardless of what side of the fence a fan sits on, more often than not, everyone knows who the starting quarterback on their favorite team is. In Houston, that job belongs to Davis Mills.

We can go back and forth about the weapons he has to work with. He touches the ball on every Texans offensive snap, so we’ll most certainly be seeing a lot of him.

Brandin Cooks, wide receiver

In Philly, Brandin Cooks is probably best known for the knockout shot he took from Malcolm Jenkins in the Super Bowl, but if there was an NFL team that would ever acknowledge that he’s probably better suited to play the Y position (secondary receiver) as opposed to the X (primary), this young man could string some very impressive seasons and showings together.

He’s partially responsible for the Texans best looking offensive play in Week 8, a 44-yard deep pass from Mills. He’s also Houston’s most dangerous receiving threat. Keep an eye on him.

Jonathan Owens, safety

Jonathan Owens leads the Texans in tackles (58). He also has two pass breakups on the season. He’s a very good football player and, perhaps, Houston’s best-kept secret.

O.J. Howard, tight end

He’ll never admit this. O.J. Howard has to be asking himself how his career has taken this turn though.

In 2020, he was hauling in passes from Tom Brady, but TB12 also still had Rob Gronkowski in those days. The season ended for O.J. with a torn Achilles that year as he wound up on the injured reserve. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, so that had to ease the pain some.

In March of 2022, O.J. signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills, but he was released on August 30th during final roster cuts. The Texans added him three days later.

So far, in 2022, he’s hauled in seven passes for 96 yards, but two of those catches have resulted in touchdowns. Keep an eye on him when Houston is in the red zone or looking to convert on third down.

Dameon Pierce, running back

Dameon Pierce leads the Texans in rushing attempts (121), rushing yards (539), and rushing touchdowns (three). If the Philadelphia Eagles neutralize him, the game becomes much more difficult for Houston’s offense.

Rex Burkhead, running back

A possible wildcard in this one is Rex Burkhead. He’s one of Houston’s more versatile weapons.

He’s second on the team in rushing yards (72 yards on 22 carries). He’s second in receptions (31) and fifth in receiving yards (125). Keep an eye on him. Philadelphia’s defense will do the same. As is the case with Pierce, Burkhead increases the Eagles’ chances of winning.