Texans ideal tonic for Packers' pass defense

Eric Goska
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Ever come face to face with a syllogism?

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, in Mexico City.

According to wikiHow.com, a syllogism is “the simplest sequence of a combination of logical premises that lead to a conclusion.”

Two premises are listed below. See if you agree with the conclusion that follows.

Premise 1: No team averaging fewer than 10 yards a completion has compiled a passer rating of 100 or more in any season in NFL history.

Premise 2: The Houston Texans are averaging fewer than 10 yards per completion.

Conclusion: Houston has a passer rating of less than 100.

The Packers host the Texans on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Not only is Houston bereft of a 100-point passer rating game this season, its efficiency ranks last in the league.

Short completions are only part of the problem. The syllogism above would have yielded the same conclusion had we substituted “no team completing fewer than 60 percent of its passes” or “no team with a touchdown percentage of less than 4 percent” as our premises.

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The Texans are guilty of all three. Their average per completion is 9.7, their completion percentage is 59.5 and their touchdown percentage is 3.

Houston, this a problem. The Texans’ passer rating of 72.2 – six teams sit below 80 – is just low enough to squeeze under the 72.6 of the New York Jets, who rank 31st.

Getting to 100 has eluded Houston in all 11 games this season. They are one of three teams (Jaguars, Ravens) to have failed in that regard.

In March, the Texans signed free agent Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million dollar contract. A year ago, the quarterback started seven games for the Super Bowl champion Broncos, going 5-2. This season, he has started all 11 games and is 6-5.

In Denver, Osweiler earned a passer rating of 86.0. In Houston, he’s at 72.2 as he has thrown all 400 of the Texans’ passes.

Osweiler has thrown more interceptions (13) than touchdown passes (12). His average gain per attempt is a league-low 5.8 (minimum 75 attempts).

He and Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Jets are in a battle to become the season’s lowest-rated passer. With five games remaining, Osweiler sits two hundredths of a point lower than his bearded counterpart.

Statistically, Osweiler’s best this season has been nothing more than average. He has earned a passer rating greater than 80 six times. His season-high was 90.7 in a 26-23 win over the Colts.

The league average is 91.2.

Osweiler’s poorest performances have been downright ugly. In an unsuccessful return to Denver in October in which the Texans lost 27-9, he needed 41 attempts to gain 131 yards. A week ago, he fired three interceptions in a 21-13 loss to San Diego.

The Texans and Osweiler perform better at home. They have compiled a rating of 76.6 at NRG Stadium where they have won five of six games. On the road, where they have gone 1-4, that number is 67.3.

Ten yards a completion was selected for our original premises because relatively few teams sink so low. According to pro-football-reference.com, there have been just 26 to do so since 1940.

Only eight teams have finished below the 9.7 yards of the Texans. None of those eight had winning records.

Osweiler has completed passes to 15 individuals, including one to himself. Only three players – receivers DeAndre Hopkins (11.1) and Will Fuller (15.0) and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (11.0) – are averaging more than 10 yards per catch.

The good news for Houston: Hopkins (55 catches), Fiedorowicz (39) and Fuller (30) are among the team’s top four receivers. They have combined for more than half (124) of the team’s 238 completions.

The good news for the Packers: They don’t draw a top-10 talent at quarterback Sunday. Six who previously started against them – Matt Ryan (2; 114.3), Dak Prescott (4; 108.6), Marcus Mariota (5; 101.9), Kirk Cousins (6; 101.4), Matthew Stafford (9; 99.3) and Sam Bradford (10; 98.3) – have taken their place among the league’s best.

Facing Osweiler and the Texans might help Green Bay lower its defensive passer rating. It remains high at 102.5.

More importantly, having to defend against an aerial attack that has completed a league-low two passes of more than 40 yards might make securing a win a trifle easier.

Extra points

In their second year of existence (2003), the Texans set the franchise record for fewest games (1) with a passer rating of 100 or more.

The Texans previously failed to average 10 yards a completion in 2005 (9.86) and 2006 (9.22).

Regular-season series

Overall: Green Bay leads 2-1

At Lambeau Field: Houston leads 1-0

Starting QBs

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (85-45 overall; 1-1 vs. Houston)

Texans: Brock Osweiler (11-7; 0-0 vs. Green Bay)

Those '70s Shows

Through Week 12, the six teams with passer ratings below 80.

Rate     Team            Record

72.2     Texans         6-5

72.6     Jets               3-6

77.8     Browns         0-12

77.8     Rams            4-7

79.7     49ers            1-10

79.9     Cardinals     4-6-1

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